Thursday, May 19, 2011

Resource Thursday: Free Doulas during labor and delivery

As military spouses, we probably all know someone who has given birth while their husband was deployed. This is just one of the many sacrifices military wives make. I didn't think too much about it until I discovered I would be in that situation, just a few months from now. Luckily, there are some wonderful people out there who believe that no woman should go through labor and/or delivery on her own. Operation Special Delivery is a wonderful resource where military spouses can find a Doula who will be with them throughout the birthing process--and they offer their services for FREE if your spouse is deployed! You simply have to click here to search for a volunteer doula in your area.
I did not have a doula for my first 2 children, and I admit I was unclear on what they do. I thought they were basically birth coaches for people going through completely natural (medicine-free) births. But after contacting one of the local doulas I found through Operation Special Delivery, I am totally sold and totally excited about the experience. I told her I planned to deliver at the Naval Hospital, and have an epidural about halfway through labor, when the pain started getting intense. (It worked well for my other 2 babies, so why change a good plan, right?) She was totally ok with that. Her role is not to fight me or force me to make all-natural choices. Her goal is simply to keep me calm, focused, and feeling confident and in control. The premise is that if you are in good mental control, then the physical part of labor will go better. After 2 fairly good deliveries with my other kids, I agree with that. But of course, my husband was there for the other two, and I did a lot of squeezing his hand, asking for ice chips, and wanting him to put a cool towel on my head. This time he won't be there, and even though I have a good girlfriend who will join me, she is not a medical professional and might not be all that comfortable with the squeamish parts. The doula will meet me at my house during early labor and make sure I am comfortable and fed, helping me keep track of contractions. Then she will go to the hospital with me when I'm ready, hold my hand and help me through those painful contractions, and even be there to assist with the pushing and the less pleasant stages of the process. Then she'll take tons of pictures afterwards! When I explained her role to my husband, he said, "Oh, basically she'll be doing my job!" I am not excited to be giving birth without my lover, but having a doula's support makes me feel so much more confident and in control of the situation. So I strongly recommend it for anyone, especially those whose husbands are deployed!!!!!

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