My very first birth as a doula. As mama’s due date came and went I knew my first experience as a doula as drawing more and more near, that sweet babe couldn’t stay in there forever after all. Another week passed an induction was scheduled for the following Tuesday. With the threat of a medical induction looming, I received word at 11:24 pm that her water had broken and she had just contacted her other doula also (I was so incredibly lucky to have my first birth be with one of Edmonton’s best and most experienced doulas). She let me know that she and her partner had decided to hang out and relax at home for a while to get some rest before they headed to the hospital. I heard from mama next at 2:25 am letting me know that they were heading to the hospital as no contractions had begun and she felt more comfortable getting assessed.
At 3:48 am I got word that she had in fact been contracting according to the fetal monitoring at the hospital but wasn’t feeling those little surges yet! Soon after she said her contractions were a little less than 10 minutes apart, and being as keen as I was to use all my new skills and at the mama’s go ahead, I decided to head to the hospital around 5:30 am. When I arrived I was greeted by a very calm and relaxed mama who was sipping on coconut water and sitting cross-legged on her bed! Dad was sitting happily in one of the other chairs in the room and seemed very ready for the whole experience. I was there for the next couple hours and the happy couple seemed to have things very under control and contractions were still very manageable for mama. But because nobody likes to feel like a watched pot and I feel that the transition of birth can be such an intimate time for a couple or family I kindly showed myself the door until things progressed further.
I returned at about 2:45 in the afternoon after speaking to mama and hearing her breathe through a contraction on the phone. With her confirmation that the intensity had picked up significantly since I spoke to her last I began to make my way back to the Sturgeon. When I arrived back at the hospital she was breathing well through a contraction and greeted me happily at its end. Dad offered to fetch some Timbits from across the street for mama to munch on and to have a break from the room for himself. In the mean time we had mom move onto the birth ball to do some rocking and to help encourage her pelvis to open and allow baby to move down. We would spend a lot of time on the birth ball in the coming hours.
After dad returned with the treats, mama had a good snack and decided she would like to walk the hospital grounds in hopes of encouraging those contractions to increase in frequency (and intensity). It was a beautiful sunny day so we spent the next 30 minutes or so walking the corridors and outside near the hospital entrance. This is where we met mama’s other doula who had just arrived. We began chatting about the labour’s progression thus far and how mom was feeling and had mama breathe through a couple contractions with one leg up in a lunge on a nearby bench; again we wanted that babe to work his way down!
It was decided that because things were still moving relatively slowly the other doula would go have a nap at a nearby relative’s home until the contractions picked up.
It was now 4.30pm and we went back to the labour room to begin the “Miles Circuit” in an effort to welcome more contractions and ward against a slowing . Mama was able to work through the first two positions of the circuit, holding each for the suggested 30 minutes and with luck the surges had found their way back! Her other doula joined us again and mom requested to be checked for progress and perhaps be put on a drip if no changes had been made.
The resident and nurse both performed a cervical check at 6.00pm and exclaimed that mama was 8cm! While the cervix still had some thinning to do, we could hardly believe it! Both the resident and mom decided to hold off on the drip as progress seemed to be happening without it.
However, because it had been many hours since the mom’s water had spontaneously broken at home her doctor recommended some IV antibiotics to combat any possible infection. Mom and dad agreed and the drugs were ordered.
The nurse taking care of mom tried to administer the saline lock twice with no luck and requested a second nurse to come and try. Upon her arrive she said “It’s so zen and nice in here! Mom you look amazing for 8 cm!” which was true on both accounts! It took a third nurse, a very patient mom and a total of 6 different attempts to finally place the saline lock.
Mama’s sister arrived at 6.45 pm and they exchanged hugs and well wishes and played a short game of “headbands” with her iphone (Which was totally endearing to watch). Mom, dad and sister were in very high spirits and you could sense the room was filled with anticipation. Shortly after her sister’s arrival, more family members, a well as the mom’s first child arrived. The other doula and myself ducked out so that some private family time could be had. Unfortunately for mama the change in environment and people put a halt to her labour progress and the next 45 minutes or so saw zero contractions.
With the exit of the guests it became our goal to get mom’s labour rolling to where it had been previously. We dimmed all the lights in the room again and pressed play on my trusty doula ipod. Mom sat on the bed while the other doula and I practiced acupressure (1 minute on, 1 minute off) for the next 30 minutes. Within 5 minutes mom had her strongest contraction yet, and they kept coming routinely in 3-4 minute intervals while the acupressure was being done. From here we had mom move back onto the birth ball where there was lots of bouncing, back rubs, some double hip squeezes and calm soothing words from dad through contractions. Mom then began to feel she had tired of sitting and began walking around the room and slightly squatting with each contraction. With the contractions visibly picking up in intensity mom returned to the birth ball to lean onto the bed and dad to the stool next to the ball to catch rest between contractions.
It was 10.00pm now and the resident suggested another cervix check be done as no pressure to push had come to mom in the time since her last check (In which it was determined she was 8cm). The resident checked and thought mama might be fully dilated but requested the charge nurse come to confirm as she felt it was unlikely since mom’s contractions were not quite where they needed to be to push that sweet babe earthside yet. The charge nurse came in and did a vaginal check and said, “Honey I’m so sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I would place you at a 4-5cm and very posterior. An error must have been made in your previous check.” Mom and dad took the news in stride and agreed with the resident that they would like to start a drip as she had already been in labour for almost a full 24 hours and evidently still had 5 or more cm of dilation to go. The Oxytocin drip was started at 10:15 pm.
The next 2 hours saw mama coping extremely well with her now very intense, frequent and long contractions. She practiced calm, deep breathing with her eyes closed with no prompting and was really going within herself to manage the labour. She found it very helpful while reclined in the bed to have the top of her thighs rubbed firmly during contractions. At this point I retrieved the list of moms favorite birth affirmations and repeated them to her as a reminder of this important job she was doing so well at, a job that only she can do and that in only a little longer she will be rewarded with the most amazing prize she could imagine. At 12:20 am we moved mama into the shower (very spacious at the Sturgeon!) and onto the birth ball. Dad was sitting on the stool beside the shower and rhythmically spraying moms belly in time with her breathing. Mom did wonderfully with this routine. I got into the shower behind them both and helped to remind mama to release the tension in her shoulders and performed effleurage massage during contractions. Here in the shower we remained for the next 20 or so minutes while mama received the laughing gas she had requested. Here is where I learned that the beauty of the Entonox really lies in it requiring mom to take full, deep and long breaths during the contractions, which of course serves to help in dilation and relaxation. She did superbly and I was truly amazed at her ability to take those deep cleansing breaths in what was recognizably transition to anyone in the room.
We left the shower at about 1:45 am and made our way back to the bed. Here mom sat reclined for the next 10 minutes and requested a dose of Fentanol. The Fentanol (both doses) were given through IV quickly and though mom was feeling the incredible intensity of the tail end of her transition, myself, the other doula and dad were able to notice the slowing of her breath and the tension leaving her grip. It appeared the Fentanol had done its job and seemed the take the edge off, giving mom and babe the break between contractions they both so deserved after the hard work they had both been doing.
It was 2:30 am now and with each contraction you could hear it end with the smallest spontaneous push by mom. The nurse and resident determined now that mom was fully dilated and the room was promptly set up for the arrival of the baby. With the coming 2 contractions mom made quick work of pushing and her sweet and healthy boy was welcomed earth side at exactly 2:42 am! He was a big boy at 9 lbs 2 oz and 21 inches tall. I witnessed such joy as a mom and dad greeted the new child they had been wondering and dreaming about for the better part of the last year.
What an experience. My first birth as a doula had just ended. I felt tired, I had along drive across the city and I wondered how much sleep I would be able to catch before my 14-month-old daughter was ready to start her day ( and my contacts were burning in my eyes). But in all honesty and from the deepest bottom of my heart, none of it mattered. I was just part of a new person making his entrance into the world. That is monumental! That is so incredibly special and I will surely savor this memory of the rest of my time here. What a privilege to be asked to participate in one the most significant moments in these people’s lives. June 8th, 2014 (and the days leading up to it) solidified in me the feeling that I had met a new life long love, being a doula.