Editors note: I’ve always thought that when a doula gives birth herself, she brings a really interesting point of view to the experience. The new Capital City Doula Services blog series, When Doulas Give Birth, will include guest post from some of the doulas in the CCDS Doula Collaboration; a group for the doulas that have trained through my DONA approved doula training workshop. Britney’s guest post below is the perfect one to kick off the series. It holds special meaning for me as a doula trainer, as Britney herself AND her doula Lisa were both my doula students (in separate workshops) and have both become exceptional doulas. Thank you Britney for sharing this honest look into how being a doula yourself affected your own birth experience, I’m honored to include it on the blog. -Melissa
By: Britney Asbell, CD(DONA)
Just shy of my daughter turning 18 months old, I realized that I was expecting our next child. I could not hide the excitement of experiencing another pregnancy and birth, but this time as a doula! I felt more in tune with my body, I just knew that knowledge was power, and I knew so much more than I did through my first pregnancy and birth experience (which was amazing in itself!).
As “labor day” quickly approached, I was doing all I could to make sure my baby was in the most optimal position for birth. I watched my estimated delivery date come and go, which was no surprise to me as my first was born a few days past 41 weeks. As 1:00 am rolled around on December 15, 2016, I felt as if that might be the day. The cramps I felt became more regular and increased in intensity. My doula mind knew I was experiencing contractions; however my mindset in trying to compare this labor to my first became so confused. It all just felt so different.
There was no back labor, no slow build up; it was hitting me, wave after wave of contractions. I soon called my doula to join us. As Lisa Maddux CD(DONA), arrived at my home, she suggested we go ahead to the hospital. I initially questioned her and said maybe I should walk around just a few minutes more but, before I could make it down the stairs, I knew in my mind it was time to go. We arrived sometime between 3:30-4:00 am and I was checked at 4-5cm, 80% effaced. I immediately thought to myself “we are here too early!” I thought having the knowledge, a doula mindset if you will, would help me through this labor.
However, I found I was being pulled out of my labor-land and trying to wear my doula hat. I kept playing scenarios in my head of what would happen if I stalled, how would I cope through these contractions, would I feel rushed to deliver? So many questions were whirling through my mind. I struggled to shut out the thoughts, put my doula knowledge aside and just follow my body. Deep down I knew that’s all that needed to be done.
I did not have to play the doula role; I had my own doula to do that for me.
I found reassurance in her answers to my questions as I helplessly looked at her and asked “what should I do?” The gentle looks she gave, the reassuring answers, the knowledge of how to approach me all put me at ease. It was surreal at moments, watching her, I could see myself. I would sometimes think ah, I know this trick or yes, good idea!
As labor progressed, I became better at shutting down my knowledge and allowing my mind and body to enter a very primal state. Once I was able to fully shut it all down, things progressed quickly. I went from 5cm to holding my son in about 40 minutes. He was born at 6:12 am on December 15, 2016.
At one point, just moments before I pushed, I looked my doula in the eyes and told her I needed an epidural. She gave a little laugh, knowing that was not actually me saying those words, and told me it was too late and that it was almost over. In that moment I knew she was right, I knew I had what it would take to finish this process, and I was so thankful to have her by my side.
Through this pregnancy and birth I found that while knowledge is power, it can also totally get in your head at moments and often times make you question things that should not always be questioned. My mind was often questioning what ifs of labor or wanting to come up with a game plan. As the laboring mom, I felt that was not my job, so turning it off and giving in to the process became the winning idea for me!
Giving birth as a doula with a doula by my side was an even greater experience than I expected. I felt more of a connection, it was as if we were not only a friendship or doula/client relationship, but we had a deeper bond, a stronger connection…
it was a sisterhood.
Britney Asbell CD(DONA) has been a DONA International birth doula since April 2015 and a Breastfeeding USA Counselor since April 2016. She is passionate about birth, breastfeeding, and the early postpartum period. When not assisting mothers in birth or with breastfeeding, she can often be found loving on her own babies, hiking with her family, or traveling. Britney lives in Kathleen, Georgia with her husband, Tyler and children, Lana and Tucker. Find Britney on Facebook @britneyasbelldoulaservices or Instagram @britneyasbelldoula. Photo credit: Two Little Loves Studio