Birthful: 10 Unforgettable Doula Moments

Why this podcast?
This podcast is great for getting info on a whole bunch of different topics related to pregnancy, birth and beyond.

I have featured this podcast twice before – Your Own Personal Birth Fairy and Family-Centred Cesareans, so I won’t bore you with all of the details, all over again.
Suffice to say that the host, Adriana Lozada, a doula, author and postpartum educator, is enthusiastic, experienced and bubbly and with over one hundred episodes you will definitely find a whole lot of information to –

“Inform your intuition”

Interviews with pregnancy, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding and parenting professionals, along with Adriana’s own experience, make for a really informative, well-rounded podcast.

How does it look?
There is a new episode released every week and each episode lasts for around an hour.
Birthful covers areas such as understanding & calming your baby, the microbiome, childbirth PTSD, breastfeeding, pumping, birth stories, VBAC, going back to work, elimination communication and delayed cord clamping

Why this episode?
I was looking for a fun episode to feature and when I found this I knew it was the one!

The host, Adriana Lozada, has been a doula for ten years and decided to celebrate with an episode that shares some of her most memorable birth moments.

I loved this idea for two reasons.

Firstly, I think more and more people are familiar with the concept of a birth doula but are perhaps still a little hazy on what a doula actually does at a birth. I thought that listening to Adriana sharing these moments would give a bit more insight into what having a doula at your birth could look like.

Secondly, most of you know that I am at the beginning of my journey as a doula.
Well, this week I was honoured to begin working with my first client and this episode is also a way for me to be even more inspired and to look forward to experiencing some amazing moments with the families I will work with.

Who should listen to this episode?
Oh goodness. It’s such a lovely, feel-good episode, why wouldn’t you listen?
Seriously though, doulas, pregnant women who are and those who are not considering a doula, anyone who would like to know a little more about the role of a birth doula.

The episode
**Trigger warning**
One of the moments featured involves the birth of a baby who was born sleeping. It is told beautifully and respectfully but please be aware of this.

The general definition of a doula’s role is that they are there to support expecting families emotionally, informationally and physically.
Adriana begins this episode by expanding on that definition and I love the beauty behind what she says. What captured me especially was this –

”We show up with an open mind and open heart to see what we can do for you”

For me, this expresses so simply and so beautifully so much of a doula’s essence.

Adriana then begins to tell us about her ten memorable moments.
I will focus on five moments here and wholeheartedly encourage you to tune in and listen to Adriana, with her wonder and enthusiasm, share the rest with you.

Moment #1 – Stand and deliver
After twelve hours of labour, this mother was beginning to tire and it looked like the baby was in a posterior position (back aligned with the mother’s back rather than her belly, which can make labour harder).
On top of that, meconium (a baby’s first bowel movement) appeared in a gush of amniotic fluid.
Meconium released before birth can signal that a baby is in some kind of distress.

At this point in the episode, the mother from this story shares the experience from her point of view.

The doctor had suggested a few different options as progress seemed to have halted.
Adriana remained calm and suggested that the mother could try a new position to see if that would help.

As the mother stood, the baby did indeed move into a better position, but what really stayed with the mother was Adriana’s calm encouragement. This, in turn, helped the mother and her partner to remain calm.

Encouraging and helping birthing women to try different positions during labour is an important aspect of a doula’s role but being a calm, constant presence is really key.

Moment #2 – When you can’t give up, surrender
The mother in this story was induced and had been in labour for a couple of days. She had had an epidural but still retained some leg movement.
Once she started to push, she tried a whole bunch of different positions but after a couple of hours was feeling exhausted and asked for a cesarean.

Her whole team, however, was convinced that she could birth naturally.
She kept going and after four hours of pushing, with support from her partner, doula and the medical team, she birthed her ten pounds four ounce (4.6kg), baby.

I love it when Adriana comments that this story shows how intensely fierce mothers can be. To be able to witness that on a regular basis is truly an honour.

 Moment #3 – Hail Mary with a team
The mother in this story, Cat, shares three moments that really stood out for her.

The first was when Adriana used massage around Cat’s forehead to reduce tension in her face.
Relaxing your face can really help you to relax your birth muscles as well and let them do what they need to do.

The second was where Adriana and the second doula, Stefanie, were discussing how things were going and things they could try in order to support Cat.

That’s it.

Just knowing that there were people in the room who supported her and her decisions a hundred percent and were rallying around her was incredibly helpful.

The third moment was when Adriana and Stefanie came over for the postpartum visit, which usually takes place a week or so after birth. Cat’s baby had had a bit of a poop explosion and Stefanie set to work washing out his clothes, cleaning the baby etc…

As a single mum, it was so helpful to Cat that she, in that moment, had not two hands but six there to help her.

Sometimes a doula supports a family by changing a nappy, parking a car at the hospital or getting you or your partner a drink or bite to eat.
An extra pair of hands is always welcome, both during and after the birth.

Moment #4 – Car Baby
Adriana joins second-time parents at their home and soon the mother started to go deep within herself. With her experience, Adriana knew this indicated that the mother was well into labour.
As the couple were planning a hospital birth, Adriana suggested getting on the road.

After travelling about four blocks, Adriana saw their car pull over and so stopped behind them. The partner was on the phone with the emergency services and it was clear that things were moving very fast.

When Adriana opened the car door she could hear that the mother was no longer making labour sounds but pushing noises. She helped to get the mother’s trousers off and could see that the baby was crowning.
The baby was born very quickly and, although she was nervous on the inside, Adriana remained calm on the outside and helped the partner to put the baby on the mother’s chest and find blankets to keep them warm.

The most important part for me was when the paramedics arrived. Adriana talks about how she worked to maintain a calm atmosphere. To introduce people rather than let the paramedics talk over the mother.
To hold space for the mother so that she could take in and process what had happened and not be overwhelmed by the experience.

Holding space for clients is a huge part of being a doula.

Moment #5 – Get behind the curtain

I love this one.

This moment really speaks to the skill of knowing and listening to your clients.
Not simply listening to what is being said out loud but to what is behind that. To truly support someone it is important to listen on a deeper level.

The mother in this birth had pre-eclampsia and there were a lot of interventions.
Shortly after Adriana and the family arrived at the hospital, the mother became stressed that the room was so cluttered with bags, coats etc…

The partner and Adriana tidied up and the mother became more relaxed.
Staying as relaxed as possible is so important for a smooth birth.

Due to the medical situation, a lot (and I mean A LOT) of people rushed into the room when it was time for the baby to be born. Because Adriana had got to know her client so well and because this particular client had become anxious at the room being cluttered with bags earlier, Adriana could see that having the room cluttered with people was having a similar, anxiety-producing effect.

So, what did Adriana do?

She very politely asked one of the nurses if the medical staff could get behind the curtain so that, although they would still be present in the room, they would be out of sight and the mother could relax and birth her baby.
It took a few requests but eventually, that’s exactly what happened.

Because Adriana had been so in tune with her client and had listened, not just to the surface request of ”please clear up the bags”, but also to where this request was coming from, she was able to think outside of the box and truly offer the right support to her client when it was needed.

To wrap up
This episode is so inspiring to me as a new doula and I hope that it also brings across more clearly what it could mean to have a doula support your birth.

I would love to hear from other doulas about your most memorable moments or from women who have had a doula at their birth and what stood out for you.

Please check out the What is a Doula? page on this website for some more details on the difference having a doula can make to your birth.

Until next time!

Emily Wills is a doula based in Stockholm. She believes that birth can be a beautiful and empowering experience and started this blog as a way of sharing some really great podcasts. She is also a mother of three and an enthusiastic runner.
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