Name: Jennie Kishbaugh
Child: Charlotte, 10 months
Occupation: RN, but mostly stay at home mom =)
Place of birth: Spectrum Health Butterworth
1. What were your reasons for hiring a doula? I knew I was interested in a birth that had natural aspects of it, meaning I wasn’t against an epidural, but was interested in techniques like massage, relaxation, different positioning, baths, etc. to help during labor. I was considering a midwife, but I really liked the OBGYN I was working with, so I started looking into a doula. I thought this could give me the best of both worlds because I could be in the hospital with my OB, but have a support person to help in other ways. Additionally, neither my husband or I had any experience with what labor and delivery is like (except for the few hours I spent during my labor and delivery clinical in school!). We definitely felt like we needed some guidance, so ultimately choosing a doula was the best choice for us!
2. How was your doula most helpful? Brenda kept me focused! Before birth, she kept me focused with positive thinking (“you have the ability to birth your baby!”). During birth, she kept me focused on getting through just this contraction, instead of feeling overwhelmed by centimeters dilated, not making progress, the fact that I still had to push a baby out, etc. And after birth, she helped me focus on myself when everything is a bit of a whirlwind and you are caring for this new precious life. She made me realize that everything I was feeling other new moms felt too. I am forever grateful for Brenda and the focus she gave me when I needed it most.
3. What did you learn from your experience giving birth? Hire a doula. No, really. Brenda didn’t tell me to say this, and I promise you won’t regret it. Something that I don’t think people understand is how much you and your partner are left by yourself during labor. And on top of that, I had at least 4 different nurses during my labor period and 3 different doctors. I’m not exaggerating! But it did not bother me because I knew I had my husband, and I had Brenda, and she wasn’t leaving because her shift was over. If it had just been my husband and I, I would have felt so much more anxious about all the coming and going and new faces. I can’t emphasize enough how much knowing those two support people are by your side and staying with you makes a difference.
4. What surprised you about giving birth? It is so empowering! It is certainly challenging, but the experience is like nothing else. I entered the hospital as a very vulnerable 9 month pregnant woman who was in tears and so much pain knowing there was so much more to get through before my little one would arrive, and left knowing “why yes, I can give birth to a baby!” Knowing that I brought this life into the world is such a gift that continues to amaze me!
5. What advice or encouragement regarding birth or the postpartum period would you like to offer to women expecting their first babies? You are going to feel so many emotions and get so much advice, but you have to remember to step away from it all and listen to your heart. You know what is best for you and your baby, no matter how much someone seems to think otherwise. And while you’re stepping away from it all to listen to your heart, take a nap. And you don’t need to feel guilty about it, you deserve it—remember, you gave birth to a baby!