Expecting as a doula was certainly different than before I became a doula. It has meant becoming a whiz at pregnancy and birth and having a perfect all natural peaceful ideal for the babies that came after, right? Ha! Absolutely not. Here is how it has really been and hopefully it gives you some insight and a laugh or two.
Everyone assumes you will love pregnancy and be a rock-star at it!
I will be the first to say, I don't do pregnancy gracefully. I love working with pregnant mommas and helping them bring babies into the world, but I am NO rock-star. All of my pregnancies have included morning sickness, some version of bed rest, and a lot of extra appointments for a multitude of reasons. Even though I work with some of the best OBs and midwives, and have witnessed so many women walk this same path, I don't have a magic pill for making myself be a master at it. I mean, I really wish I rocked it, but expecting as a doula might mean just a hair more frustration because I don't have that magic pill. My baby girl is due in just a few short weeks and I can not wait! Not just to see her, but to NOT be pregnant anymore.
Finding a birth and pregnancy team matters more than ever before
My first pregnancy, I pulled the short straw without realizing it, as far as my doctor was concerned. I was convinced it didn't matter. Fast forward to now and I KNOW it matters! I witness different outcomes for moms and babies that are hospital and provider dependent on a regular basis. I think attending so many births at so many different hospitals with different providers gives doulas a unique look into how women are cared for during birth. Expecting as a doula, I didn't just make sure my birth team was a priority, but that my pregnancy team was too. This meant hiring a provider and doula earlier so that I could have both the physical and emotional support I needed for this pregnancy and not just for this birth. Being on bed rest the last few weeks, this has proved an even better decision than I knew. Just having someone to call and say...can you talk me through this...SO much better than how I handled the last part of baby number one and two.
I will absolutely have a natural unmedicated birth...not necessarily!
Baby number three was my first birth as a doula. I had goals of an unmedicated birth because by then I had witnessed it about 50% of the time with the clients I was working with. However, unaware that I had salmonella, I spent two weeks horrendously sick before delivery. After laboring for 24 hours, my team and I decided an epidural was the best answer to get some rest sending my plan of a unmedicated birth went out the window. But you know what... that was okay with me. Doulas support women where they are. Doulas are not just for moms planning to have unmedicated births, or non c-section mommas. I have a healthy sense as a doula of what needs to happen when, and that is certainly helpful, but it doesn't mean everything is easy peasy.
My kids know a LOT more about birth
My daughter was three when my son was born and I told her what I thought she needed to know. Fast forward four years, and now my kids (including my four year old) have a pretty good handle on how babies come. We talk about birth because of my job. It is unavoidable. But we certainly talk about it more when they are seeing their mom and our friends walk through it. Recently my neighbor had a home birth and now they ask, are you going to have the baby here? (I am not.) They have a really good sense for how babies are born in different ways. Whether it is at home, a birth center, or a hospital and whether they are born via what they call "the line" (c-section) or vaginally.
I might know too much as a doula and that's okay
When you work in a particular field, you know the ins and outs, the good and the bad, and the right way and wrong way to do things. Being so well versed when it comes to pregnancy and birth, it can be a hair nerve wracking, since personally I don't tend to follow what may be considered "normal". (See above...not a rock-star at pregnancy). But, knowledge is power and knowing the questions to ask, and when to ask them, have made expecting as a doula something that has worked in my favor. Now I'm not suggesting to become a doula before you get pregnant (that would be a lot of work!). However, if you have a doula, ask them what books or resources they enjoy for themselves. This will help you work with providers and understand your own pregnancy. You are your best advocate and educating yourself will help you have a better outcome. Knowing too much is not a bad thing :)
So in case you were wondering, a doula ABSOLUTELY needs a doula!