As my husband, James, and I prepared for the birth of our first child, we knew we wanted to try for a natural, unmedicated birth. We spent the months leading up to our baby’s arrival preparing by reading books about pregnancy and labor, attending a childbirth class, and discussing our wishes and plans. We decided to have my mom attend the birth as well since we both have a great relationship with her and felt she would both be a great support and enjoy being present for the birth of her grandson!
To be honest, we were initially on the fence about employing a doula for our birth. Would three people be too much? Would my partner feel pushed out of his role? However, the final two months of my pregnancy proved to be quite difficult, with an irritable uterus and contractions that made it impossible for me to stand or walk for more than a minute or two. I ended up being in full-blown prodromal labor – regular contractions that don’t turn into active labor – for two weeks. I became less and less confident in my ability to birth naturally and in my partner’s ability (sorry honey) to support me through these complications.
Cara proved to be a wonderful resource throughout this time. She happened to be attending a doula training while I was experiencing this, and really researched some ways I might be able to bring on active labor and some ways to relieve both my physical discomfort and mental stress. Her mix of practical – but not pushy – advice and emotional encouragement helped me regain confidence that I could power through the final weeks of pregnancy and achieve the birth I desired. The prenatal yoga session she offered at home was a huge stress-reliever and truly helped reduce my prodromal labor symptoms. After the session, I felt better than I had in months – energized, opened, and rested all at once.
Cara’s presence at the birth was so helpful. While my mom offered forehead kisses and held my hand, Cara really partnered with my husband to help him provide physical comfort to me in the form of counterpressure, labor support poses, and massage. She would rotate out with him when he got tired (and to be honest, her touch was much more effective in relieving the pain I was feeling) and make practical suggestions to both of us in terms of positioning. Additionally, she really was able to advocate for me to the hospital staff. Neither my mom nor my husband had the mental wherewithal during the birth to ask the nurses questions or request needed items, and Cara did that firmly to make sure that I got exactly what was needed. She also took lots and lots of pictures at our request, which captured moments that otherwise would have been lost to the haze of hormones!
Finally, her postnatal visit was really special. In the overwhelming first week, it was great to have someone to both share our joys with and vent to about the difficult adjustments we were both experiencing. Again, she was so encouraging and managed to both validate our feelings (overwhelmed, tired, worried about breastfeeding issues, etc.) and make us feel like we were the best parents in the world! She also had both my husband and I share our versions of the birth story, and then shared her own. It was so cool to hear everybody’s memories of what happened. She then presented us with a beautiful printout of my labor timeline, which is such a lovely keepsake to remember our son’s journey into the world. Overall, Cara was an invaluable asset to our pregnancy and birth experience. Her knowledge about pregnancy and birth, combined with her kind, encouraging manner really helped us to have the best possible birth of our baby boy!
We actually got involved with Cara late in Amy’s pregnancy, only about 9 days before our due date. Throughout the pregnancy we had been on the fence about getting a doula as both myself and Amy’s mom would be attending the birth. We thought that between the two of us we would be able to handle things completely. However, after a full week of prodromal labor we were a little less confident about the birth itself and decided to get all the help we could get. Turned out to be a great decision.
We had a meeting with Cara a little less than a week out from our due date where we discussed expectations and what she would be like as a helper during the labor and birthing process. She explained that she would mostly serve to help us to work better together as a team and to be a liaison between the medical staff and us. That way I could focus almost all my attention on my laboring partner. This was important to me as I didn’t want to feel like I was being replaced or “subbed” out. I had read a number of books about labor and had prepared myself mentally for being a birth partner so I wanted to put to use what I actually learned! During the meeting it also became clear that Cara had done a lot of research about prodromal labor and she suggested a variety of positions/exercises to help minimize Amy’s discomfort/pain.
Cara even led Amy in a personal prenatal yoga class just a few days later. Amy loves doing yoga but had been unable to practice much due to her prodromal labor. She absolutely loved it.
During the actual labor itself things progressed rather rapidly. After laboring for a few hours at home we went to the hospital and Cara met us there just a few minutes later. Despite all the classes, reading, and preparation we went through when it came down to go-time we needed a little help. Cara helped me to be the best birth partner I could be for Amy. She demonstrated how to properly apply counter pressure, suggested different positions when we got a little stuck, and even gave me a break when my hands started cramping after hours of back massaging. And as soon as I was ready to help out again Cara gave me my spot back. Despite all my reading and preparation when things started happening most of that knowledge went out the window. During transition all three of us were massaging and encouraging Amy at the same time, which I think was crucial for Amy to have the non-medicated birth she desired. Once pushing started Cara took on the role of photographer and captured lots of special moments that we otherwise would not have on film. She stayed an hour or so after the birth of our son to make sure we were stabilized, then left us to enjoy the new addition to our family.
About a week after the birth we had a follow up visit with Cara where she provided us with a timeline with her notes and observations during Amy’s labor. This was really nice to have as the labor itself can be a bit of a blur for dads and entirely forgotten by moms.
Overall we were incredibly happy with our experience with Cara and would whole-heartedly recommend her for anyone looking to get a little (or lot) of extra help for labor/pregnancy. She definitely helped me to be the best birth partner I could be for Am