Description of Labor
Jenny started having contractions around 10:52 pm December 10th 2011. The contractions were spaced out enough that Jenny went back to sleep most of the night. Her contractions became about 5 minutes apart around 6:00 am. Jenny called me to come over to her house and I arrived at 7:00 am. She was talkative and not too focused with each contraction. However, we stayed at her house for about 30 minutes and then Jenny/Scott drove to the birth center. I followed behind them in my vehicle. At 7:45 am she was checked at 4 cm dilated, 90 % effaced, and a -1 station. She had some back labor and needed sacral/hip pressure. Spontaneous rupture of membranes at 12:14 pm; after, the pushing became more prevalent. Their baby girl was born December 11th, at 1:25 pm. Different breastfeeding holds were shown and the midwife’s instructions were reiterated; after birth a few hours, and again a few days/weeks later.
Jenny’s labor estimations: early labor about 10 hours, active labor about 3 hours, transition about 22 min, second stage/pushing about 1 hour 11 min. Total labor was about 14 hours and 33 minutes. Baby weighed 8 lbs 14 oz, and was 19 in long.
My Role as a Doula
Most of my role as a doula during this labor was to provide reassurance in Jenny’s own ability, to let her know that what she was feeling was normal, and to help her with the back pressure. Scott and I, when she was in the birthing tub, held counter pressure on both of her hips for many hours. At times my role was to step back, and allow everyone to offer their emotional support. At one point she needed her husband very close, then later she needed me to help her with the contractions, and then when Jenny doubted her ability she relied heavily on the midwife to console and provide her with reassurance. After the birth, Jenny needed continued support for breastfeeding, a few days and a couple of weeks following.
Mother’s Reaction to Labor and Birth
During the prenatal visits conducted Jenny seemed confident in her own body’s ability but was uncertain of how much she could handle. She also was planning for the best but with her first birth it ended with a cesarean and her boy had some genetic learning disabilities. She also felt that breast feeding was non-existent with her first postpartum experience. Jenny educated herself about the birthing process, her options and took a prenatal birthing class, to prepare. Additionally, she told me that they wanted me to be there to reassure them of the normalcy of what would go on and that I could help her husband to not have the entire burden of knowing everything. She also informed me about her history of panic attacks after her first son was born, and to try to keep everything with this birth low key.
During the initial onset of labor Jenny did not seem concerned about this birth. She knew that this one would be different than her previous birth and was looking forward to it. Jenny was excited that she was going to have this baby only 1 day past her estimated due date. When I arrived at her home, she still seemed talkative, upbeat and a little more concerned with the baby sitter and how her son would do while she was gone.
At the birth center, after her things were settled, she proceeded to lay on the bed for a while with her husband behind her, and she moved around the room a lot. She seemed to rely on him for emotional support more than any other kind of support. She loved using the bathroom/toilet, and the Jacuzzi tub most often for relaxation. About during the transition period she became more irritable and used short/abrupt answers with her husband. At this point she relied on verbal support from me and the midwife. When it was time to push she seemed like she knew what to do but she kept saying that she could not do it by herself. When I would offer some verbal and emotional support at this time, she seemed to reject it coming from me. Therefore, at this point, the midwife decided to fulfill this role. Jenny expressed that she was tired and the midwife said she had the strength within herself to go on. As the head was crowning she said she could not do it, the midwife looked at her and said that she could, to breathe with her, and that she was almost done.
After the birth, Jenny was unsure about how she felt at the time. Later she said that she was so amazed and proud of herself. She did not like the intensity of the labor and birth and did not want to do it again anytime soon. She appeared a little tired but seemed energized by eating some toast and juice. Later, she said that she was glad that I suggested getting back into the tub for transition, after using the bathroom, because she really did want to have a water birth. But she expressed that she needed even more emotional support from me. Jenny said that it was strange but a new beginning to have a change to hold her baby right after birth, and to breast feed her. The bond between Jenny and Scoot seemed to grow and be strengthened.
What I Learned as a Doula
I learned the importance of using the double hip squeeze. She said that the counter pressure is what made the labor tolerable. I also learned the importance of emotional support from everyone on the birth team; that birthing is a team effort both physically, and in Jenny’s case, very involved emotionally. I had heard that sometimes VBACs could be a battle with emotions but I was able to see her work things through emotionally and the positive outcome of her increased self-esteem and joy of this birth being a different experience than her first baby. Also, it takes longer than just immediately after the birth to establish good breastfeeding habits and confidence.
Hello! My name is Linda. I am a Doula CD(DONA), Hypno-Doula, Childbirth Educator, Midwife Assistant and a Registered Nurse (RN) by profession.