Name: Amy DeJong
Children: Camden and Ethan (Identical Twins), 6.5 years
Elliana, 3 years
Keaton, 13 months
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom and former teacher.
Place of birth: Spectrum Health, Butterworth
1. What were your reasons for hiring a doula? My first birth was a planned c-section, due to a medical issue with one of my twins. My second birth was a medicated VBAC. Both of these births resulted in a difficult and long recovery which was challenging with two newborns, and then a newborn and two toddlers. So for my third (and final birth) I really desired to have an easier recovery so that I could care for my four kids. I had done research and found that going with an undedicated birth would give me the opportunity to be more mobile, labor in better positions and push in better positions, all which would hopefully result in a better physical recovery for mom. I hired a doula because I knew that I would need a support person to help me through the physical part of an unmedicated labor.
2. How was your doula most helpful? The first thing I found most helpful was having my doula there to support me though the challenging parts of labor. Brenda not only physically supported me by doing counter pressure through almost all of my transition contractions, she also emotionally supported me when I was tired, wanted to give up and just get an epidural. The physical and emotional support were a huge help during labor. Also I found it very helpful as a VBAC patient to have a doula that was willing to work with the nurses/doctor and express to them my requests for minimal interventions, while still working with hospital procedures for VBAC patients.
3. What did you learn from your experience giving birth? That every birth is different and beautiful in its own way. I gave birth three times each in a completely different way. All three of those births were beautiful and wonderful and gave me four beautiful children. In hindsight there are things I would have done differently at each of those births but have chosen to not let that take away from the birth experience that I DID have.
4. What surprised you about giving birth? That it HURTS. ☺ I knew it would hurt but I did not know how much. I labored with my daughter, and had a C-section and neither of them compared pain-wise to the transition phase during an unmedicated labor. I say this not to scare anyone… it was not scary, it was actually AMAZING! It was amazing that my body COULD do it! I endured a painful birth and I was strong and managed through it, of course not always with a beautiful gracious attitude, but I DID it! (Thanks Brenda for helping with that!)
5. What advice or encouragement regarding birth or the postpartum period would you like to offer to women expecting their first babies? You are the mom and need to do what is right for YOU!!! Do not be swayed by everyone’s opinions, research, advice etc. Do what you feel is best for you, your birth, and your baby. And remember that no matter how your little one is born… it will be a beautiful and amazing adventure!
Know that you CAN advocate for yourself. You do not have to do things just because it is the way your doctor/midwife does it or its hospital procedure. Do not be scared to ask questions about what procedures will be done and why and if you are not comfortable with them speak up! A doula is a wonderful aide to help you voice what you desire.
As for postpartum, remember to be GRACIOUS with yourself. Having a baby is an amazing and extremely challenging thing, there is NO perfect way to do it. So if you have an easy birth and wonderful post partum period what a blessing, if you have a terrible birth or difficult baby it is OK to mourn that birth/motherhood is not exactly what you imagined. Try to let go of mom guilt. If your baby is fed and safe you are doing a GREAT job! Everything else is just mothering bonuses… the extras do NOT determine if you are a good mom. Also remember to take care of YOURSELF. If you are not nourished (physically, emotionally, and mentally) you cannot nourish a little one.
Are you a former OTM client? We would love to feature you and your story in our Client Series! We hope to feature a diverse variety of women and birth experiences. E-mail your doula and we'll send you instructions.