When I envisioned giving birth, I kind of thought that the nurses would be very involved, talking you through every step of the way and at least offer some kind of emotional support and comforting. Well, was I glad I had read about a doula in my early stages of pregnancy and that my hubby agreed to letting me make use of such a great service. The nurses, although professional, pretty much got on with the job. Not talking much, explaining anything or being of any sort of emotional assistance.
In these moments of early labour I came to know this lady, whom I first thought to be one of the hospital nurses, as Colleen Pedersen. She was the second choice, for my original doula had to attend the birth of one of her friends, who happened to go into labour the very same night and went into hospital at the same time as me.
Colleen had all kinds of tricks up her sleeve to also help things along nicely. A birth chair was put out; Ryan was shown one or two pressure methods and told how he can help me cope with the pain a little bit better. I was shown how to use the birthing ball, the birthing chair and encouraged to stay up and moving as much as possible.
She wasn't in the room very long until the atmosphere changed. Bright lights were switched off, candles were painting the room with a relaxing glow and soothing music was playing in the background.
A variety of snacks was kindly put out on the little bedside table and Colleen went on to explain that it would be good to keep eating and drinking to keep my blood sugar levels regulated and much needed energy up.
By the time Colleen got to my side, labour had been progressing nicely, Ryan and I have been pacing the corridors of the hospital, climbing stairs and doing everything we could to keep things moving along and to allow gravity to do its thing. Until then, Kelly Dawson who was going to my doula at first, took little moments away from her labouring friend in the ward next door and checked in on me every now and then, telling me to keep walking around and to breath through every contraction.
Eventually in the early hours of the morning I started crying with the intensity of my contractions that I could no longer cope with it, I wanted to give up. The pain that shot through my body came too regularly to my liking and I remember wishing there was a bit more time in-between the contractions for some rest or sleep. During these intense moments, Colleen was the quiet voice urging me to keep trying for one more contraction, to keep going when I felt I couldn’t do it anymore and to “just breath through this one”. She was the gentle but firm hands that put pressure on all the right places at the right time to distract me from the pain, the soft hands massaging my back and feet when I felt tired and swollen.
I would not have been able to go through with giving birth naturally without a doula. Colleen’s involvement in the labouring process made the difference between giving up and pushing through. Whenever I was ready to simply give up, she would firmly reassure me and get me to just focus on the now, the current contraction, to breathe through it and not to focus on the fact that another painful contraction will follow shortly.
When the time came, she kindly reminded the doctor and staff about my birth wishes of delayed cord clamping, skin on skin after the birth and to breast feed as soon as baby wanted to latch.
Yes it was scary, painful and messy, but Colleen helped make giving birth the most empowering thing I have ever done! Above all, it was the most beautiful experience and I am glad I could do it for my son.
After giving birth Colleen continued following up with phone calls to see how we were doing and had heaps of info and tips ready for me.
Her professional assistance throughout the labour and early days of being a new mommy made it all so much easier and even three months in I know that I could call on her with any questions.
My husband agrees that having had Colleen there made it an amazing experience even for him. He would not have known how to support me the way he did if it wasn’t for her quietly and gently showing him and talking him through it and is amazed that her presence wasn’t intrusive on our privacy at all and was in fact very conducive to the whole process.