When we were expecting, I had no idea the learning curve that was about to take place. A sweet friend of mine had recommended Bradley classes (this is not a sponsored post), which is a 12 week long course that teaches you about:
- Relaxation techniques and exercises for an easier birth
- The stages of labor
- Birth plans to give to your hospital or midwife
- Husbands as an active partner during labor
- Breastfeeding techniques
- Postpartum preparation
As someone who loves gathering facts and information, I liked the idea of learning as much as I could about the birth process. It was an eye-opening course. I didn't have any friends with kids (I was one of the first), so it was helpful to have someone tell me everything I could possibly expect during this new season of life. If you are interested, you can go to their website and see if there are classes near you.
During this class we learned about the difference between a doula, a midwife and a doctor. I opted to have all three for both of my births and am so glad I did. That being said, I think the most valuable lesson I learned when preparing for birth is that it looks SO different for every mother! The goal is heathy mom and healthy baby. The method to get to that is different with each mother and baby!
A doula is someone you hire (not covered by insurance). They answer any questions you have leading up to your birth. As soon as you think you're in labor, you can contact your doula and she will be there to guide you until your birth. When you are at the hospital, birth center or at home, she will come and stay with you until you give birth. She's there to advocate for you at the hospital. She will be your encourager. A good doula will know what you need without you having to speak, because let's be honest, who wants to have a conversation during labor?
I can say without doubt, that hiring a doula was absolutely essential for me because I was trying to have a natural birth. During labor with my second child, the midwife thought I was in prodromal labor, which is a long, drawn out labor that can go on for days. It immediately left me discouraged but soon after, my doula arrived at the hospital and encouraged me that the baby was coming tonight and sure enough he did! Doulas can offer support in ways that sometimes midwives or doctors are too busy to do.
Questions to think about when considering a doula:
- How many births have they attended? For reference, my doula had been to at least 1500 births so I knew she knew the ropes!
- Do you want someone who is younger and more like a friend? Or someone older who would be more like a mother? Personality fit matters. I loved our doula because she was so calming and compassionate.
- How much will her services be and what all does it include? Does she do a postpartum visit?
A midwife is a trained health professional who helps in the labor and delivery of your baby. Midwives will do much of what a doctor would do leading up to the birth. They can perform routine exams and order tests, deliver babies, and refer you to a doctor if needed. During labor, they will check on you, but unlike a doula, they cannot stay in your room the entire time. They are usually attending to a few births simultaneously. They will come in and measure to see how much you have dilated and is the person who will deliver your baby.
If you wanted to work with a midwife, the doctor would be on call for special cases such as an emergency cesarean section or if your pregnancy is considered high risk. With my oldest child, I worked with a doula and midwife, but the doctor came in after 15 hours of labor and helped vacuum extract the baby out because she was caught under my hip bone.
All three were super helpful and respectful of my needs. During the Bradley class, I was able to create a birth plan so that everyone and all medical staff would be on the same page about my desires for birth. I have a link to a free template that I used here. Feel free to fill it out and take it to your doula, midwife or doctor and talk through the details.
The creation and birth of a baby will never cease to amaze me. May you all be blessed and encouraged as you equip yourself for the journey ahead! I'm rooting for you all!
Download your FREE Birthplan Template
Please copy and paste into your own document to edit.
I am sharing my journey and experience, but would like to iterate that I am by no means a medical expert. I'm just a mom wanting to share what I learned because I was so grateful that other moms shared their experiences with me!