Whither the Doula?

This article in the New York Times really dissed the whole idea of hiring a doula, so I thought I would chime in with a Defense of the Doula.

“Then “she urged my husband and me to take a shower to ease the pain,” Ms. Myers said. “I told her I didn’t want to, but she was adamant.”

Dripping wet, freezing and in bone-shattering pain, Ms. Myers said she seethed in silence. When she ultimately chose an epidural, her doula walked out. “She was so set on my having a natural birth, she offended me, she offended the nursing staff, she offended my O.B.,” Ms. Myers said.

In an era of nurse shortages and high Caesarean rates, doulas and lactation consultants can be godsends for many women. Indeed, multiple studies show that a doula’s presence during childbirth leads to shorter labor, less medical intervention and a happier experience.”

“But the increased popularity of doulas and lactation consultants has also led to more conflict — not only with parents but doctors and nurses as well.”
Conflict with doctors and nurses….hmmmmm… seems like this is the big issue….
As well it should be. When doulas cut down on epidural use, interventions, and overall use of medicine and surgery during birth, the financial bottom line is being affected. A single mother all alone is so easy to manipulate into interventions, and a Mom with an uneducated husband or boyfriend who just wants his sweetheart to make it out alive is especially easy to bully into the OR.

But a determined mother who has a trained and educated doula by her side, well that is another matter completely. During transition when the mother may experience the self doubt sign post, a doula could convince her to hold on during the most mismanaged part of hospital labor, and then SHE MIGHT OPT FOR A NATURAL BIRTH!!!
How dare she do that? What about all of the anesthesiologists? They need to have something to do, and what about all those NICU nurses and doctors just waiting for that druggy blue baby to show up so they can resuscitate it. I mean, really, how dare this mother deprive the Birth Machine of all of its various parts?
And the doula? Well, How DARE those undereducated doulas question current medical dogma and practice around birth??? Those people are BAAAADDDD, bad, bad ,bad. Showing mother how to birth naturally and without drugs, helping her with massage and hot water and warm compresses to ease the discomfort of labor. Don’t they know that a whole team of PROFESSIONALS is just waiting to jump in with lots of drugs, machines, and surgery to help the mother and the child be cut away from each other during the labor???
Don’t they know that if the mother gives birth naturally, someone might not be able to make a payment on their porche, private plane, ski boat, or take that planned trip to the cayman islands?

I would like to share my own experience with doulas, both the various doulas at my five births and some of the births I have attended as a doula at the births of family members, friends, and people who took my childbirth class.
First Birth (Michelle 1988)
For my first birth I asked my mother to help me through the self doubt period of labor. It was funny because I had only been exposed to the Bradley Method for three weeks before my oldest child was born. I read The Rosegg Book three times in those weeks, and asked my mother to also read it. She did, and before labor really kicked in, I asked her to remind me that I wanted a natural birth if I experienced the self doubt sign post.
This is the point in labor when the birthing mother looks at anyone around her and says “I just can’t do it any more”.
Naturally trained mothers understand that this emotional signpost is really the final moment of transition, and is the marker for the birth team to know that pushing is just around the corner, usually within minutes of the mother experiencing this emotion, she will likely be pushing the baby out.
Yet in the hospital it is the most fumbled portion of labor for those uneducated about natural birth because it is the time when Mom asks for pain relief and the husband or other person around her calls the nurses for the drugs.
During Michelles labor I looked at my mother and said those magical words, “I just can’t do it anymore”, and she looked me right in the eye, and said “self doubt sign post! You, my dear are going to be pushing in a minute!” And I was!
I had completely forgotten about it during the intensity of my labor. Yet her response was truly my ticket to a natural birth. I pushed for two additional hours but was able to achieve a natural, spontaneous, undrugged birth with no episiotomy in a Detroit Hospital that at the time had a 50% C-section rate. This hospital was the regional high risk center for all of the area, so they did a huge number of sections.
My mother then welcomed Paul, Shelly and I into her home for NINE DAYS of the most amazing care. I literally did nothing but nurse the baby, eat, and sleep while she cared for me. I will never forget those wonderful days of new motherhood under the watchful and nurturing eyes of my own Mom. What a gift, and yes, she was the best doula anyone could ask for. I felt so great when we went home on day ten that I sang in the Christmas Concert for the Detroit Mormon Concert Choir that Paul and I were performing with at the time.
Second Birth: (Allison 1992)
My mother flew out from Michigan to Colorado a week before Allison was born. I was 41 weeks and we figured Ally would be born soon. Because I experienced a Post Partum Psychosis six weeks after the birth of Michelle, my Mom really wanted to be available to help and ended up staying with us for three weeks.
I labored at home for twenty hours and then went to the hospital where after three additional hours of fighting with my doctor and the staff, I made the decision to have a c-section because Allison was breech.
My husband and my mother helped me in the hospital with constant care and support for four days. My room had a little Daddy bed in it and they took turns staying the night with me during those intense early days after surgery. I believe every mother should have constant family support and help as I did after a c-section. It made my recovery so much easier to have that help.
I did not have a psychosis after the birth, but I did have several panic attacks and night sweats that just soaked my bed and freaked me out once I arrived home. It was so helpful to have my Mom in the next room. She was able to help me during the night, when I was in so much belly pain.
The most challenging part of that birth was walking up to our third floor apartment after four days in the hospital. No elevator. Bitter cold january in Colorado, and I had just had all my belly muscles cut apart. As I took each step up those stairs, the pain just multiplied, and by the end Paul was picking up my foot and lifting it for me up to the next step. My mother was waiting with the baby and my little three year old Michelle. (Paul had run Allison up to my mom when we arrived home). Mom had baked whole wheat bread and had a pot of pinto beans on the stove all ready for me to eat. I remember eating her lovingly cooked food and feeling this blast of energy and renewal flow into my body after climbing those stairs.
My Mother stayed with us for two full weeks after the surgery and it was so helpful to have her with me. She had experienced a hysterectomy just a few years before and knew how it felt to recover from abdominal surgery. When she left Paul stayed home for a week from work to help, and the 4th week his parents came to visit for a week to help and be present at Allisons Baby blessing at church.
Overall my c-section was made so much better by having my Mother with me as master live in doula. I had no post partum infections and was able to breastfeed my daughter with no formula supplementation. I believe prevention of infection and the breastmilk flowing were directly related to the tender care of my family during those important weeks after the birth.
Birth #3: (Jeffrey 1994)
Jeffs birth was my hospital VBAC (Vaginal Birth after Cesarean)
I really went all out in my birth plans and prep for this labor. I was so determined to have a natural vaginal birth, that nothing was going to stand in my way.
We took a sibling prep class at the hospital to prepare the girls for his birth. Because I was teaching childbirth all along, my girls had been exposed to lots of birth videos while I taught in our home, but they loved going to the little hospital class and learning all about where babies come from. Allison was only two, and Michelle was five, but we planned for and hoped to have both of them at the birth to meet their new brother.
So I had this on my mind all during my pregnancy as well as my goal to have a vbac.
Here is the video of the moments after Jeffs Birth:

My mother did not fly out for this birth. I asked friends to help me with all of the labor stuff and we literally had an army of mormon women who were available for child care and whatever we needed. I had asked my friends Kinde and Sherri to do one on one with the girls, meaning they were in charge of the children and if the birth was too much for them to handle, I wanted my friends to be ready to take my girls out if need be.
Sherri and her husband Pete were our “doulas” during this birth. They also had a friend Sue, who was willing to be at home with all of the children and she was so helpful the night of Jeff’s labor as all four adults were at the hospital all night long.
Before we checked into the hospital, we had several bouts of false labor that resulted in me calling in the whole birth team. It was very embarassing to call everyone, have them show up and take the kids, and then have everything stop a few hours later. This was one of the reasons Unassisted Birth was so desireable for my next two births.
When I had dozens and dozens of pre labor moments during Andy and Bens pregnancies, rather than overreact and call in the reserves, I just labored and contracted alone for a couple hours and when it fizzled out, no big deal, and no one elses time was wasted. (Laura Shanley did come over to witness the birth during one of my false labor moments and spent several hours with my kids at the park and with me as I contracted and contracted during Andys pregnancy, and when it fizzled out I felt really sorry that she had taken the time to come over, just to have everything stop.)
When I finally went into a labor that never stopped and kept me awake during contractions, it ended up being three full days of contractions every five minutes. This was the crucial part for our labor support. Sherri took care of the girls for all of those days of labor. She just kept them at her house while Paul and I labored and labored and labored. It just never stopped. We had done all sorts of “natural” things to get my contractions going as I was supposedly 42 weeks with an eight pound boy and my doctor had scheduled an induction on a monday morning at ten AM.
I called a local midwife to get tips to kick my labor in and she said that if the baby was ready having sex three times in 12 hours was a sure way to get things going. We tried it and yes it really did work better than a pitocin or cytotec induction, as Jeff was born, as so many children are, at exactly ten AM on that monday morning. It felt like he waited in my womb until the absolute last second before I was supposed to be induced, and then came out. I have since read many birth stories of babies who were born at that same time, when the induction was scheduled to be done. They know they don’t want those nasty drugs and so they come barreling out before the torture begins.
I don’t know what we did to deserve such great friends, but I kid you not, after watching our daughters for those three days, Sherri and Pete came to the hospital late on sunday night and stayed with us all through the night and for a few minutes after the birth. Pete brought his camera and asked me if I wanted the birth on tape. I had asked him to bring it so we could catch the girls meeting their new brother, but when he asked to tape the birth, I said “SURE!”
This is the only birth I have on video and it grows more precious as the years go by.
How important was our friends/doulas to my goal of having a VBAC? It was crucial. Knowing that my girls were in a safe place, knowing that I had all of this emotional, physical, and spiritual help in the form of my mormon community, who jumped in with food, child care, labor support, a baby shower, and tons of help after we arrived home – home cleaning, meals, and just joy and revelry that a child had been born. It was awesome to have our community of friends join our family in this work.
And it is one of the main reasons I believe every young family should join a religious group or some other circle of friends if you are removed from extended family support and have several older children who will need care during the birth of an additional child. It brings so much peace of mind to the laboring mother if she knows her children are being well cared for while she does the work of birthing the next baby. I have tended older siblings many times during births for my friends and it has been joyful to be the one to bring the big brothers and sisters to the hospital to meet the new baby.
While I was pushing Jeff out on monday morning, Paul called our friend Kinde, who had been assigned to take care of Allison during the birth, and asked her if she could pick up Shelly and Allison at Sherris house and bring them over to the hospital as we thought the baby would be born soon. Shelly told her that she did not want to see “all of that fluid” come out when the baby was born, so she opted to stay out in the childrens waiting room until Jeff was born.
Allison however, wanted to see Mom and the baby, and so she was present at the birth. She came in literally as Jeff was emerging from my body. A few minutes after I breastfed Jeff, she jumped up on the birthing bed and had some nursies too. The hospital staff was very curious about my plans to tandem breastfeed those two together, which I did for two and a half years.
I stayed in the hospital for a night and then came home to a wonderful meal cooked again by Sherri, and lots of tender nurture from my husband Paul.
4th Birth: (Andrew 1996)
Shortly after Jeffs birth I made the decision to go solo. In everything. While I was grateful for all of the wonderful help during Jeffs birth and the fact that I gave birth naturally and had a successful VBAC, I was very angry that all of that pressure to birth him early was put on me by the rules and protocols of current medical dogma.
I had been breastfeeding Allison when Jeff was conceived and did not know my conception date. When he was born the neonatologist called out his gestational age as 37 weeks. So, we were operating under the assumption that Jeff was post due, when in fact he was born a month early. After a three day “naturally” induced labor, three hours of transition, and four hours of pushing, needless to say I was angry that I had been so pressured to get him out of my womb early just because the doctors are so afraid of a post dates babe. I feel confident that Jeff could have safely been born a month later with less tension and mental torture if I had had the confidence to wait for his labor to kick in without some crazy deadline.
When he was born about twenty people were in the delivery room, and I felt completely exposed, somewhat beat up by the staff as I clawed my way to a vaginal birth (I fired my doctor during labor), and really questioned all of the effort I had to put out in order to birth the way I wanted. I had been studying as much home birth information as I could get my hands on, and after reading Laura Shanleys book Unassisted Childbirth, I decided that this time I wanted to do it all myself. My own prenatal care, my own birth, and just take care of myself post partum. I made no plans with friends or family to attend the birth, and had no doula, backup plan beyond the ER, and like the little red hen that I am “just did it all myself”.
Dr. Amy just did a post on personal responsibility on her blog and it really put my panties in a wad. She said:

“In other words, all the talk about homebirth advocates “taking responsibility” for their health is just talk. In the ways that count, homebirth advocates expect everyone else to do all the work, take all the responsibility and shoulder the bulk of the expense for their choices. Homebirth advocates intend to take precisely the same responsibility for their health that smokers intend to take, in other words, no responsibility at all.”

In thinking of Andrews pregnancy and birth, and my lack of professional care, what surprised me the most was how seriously I took everything. I had not been conciously aware of how much I was depending on my various doctors to provide cover for my lack of knowledge on how to create a healthy child.
I had always thought of myself as proactive and a self starter. Yet when I fully weaned from prenatal care, I was shocked to discover how truly disciplined I could be with nutrition, exercise, getting enough sleep, and every moment of every day was completely focused on the baby and doing whatever I could think of to provide him with a lush and nurturing environment in my womb. I never allowed myself to get dehydrated, was completely focused on eating the healthiest high protein vegan diet, and just ate and ate and ate my way to an eleven pound twelve ounce child. I ate 80% raw foods during his pregnancy and exercised every single day.
The irony of Dr. Amys words that homebirthers expect others to do it all just cracks me up. During that pregnancy and my three hour labor, I did not expect ANYONE to do anything to help me. It was me, my knowledge of birth, and my faith in Jesus Christ that carried me through a 45 week pregnancy, three hours of labor, three pushes, and the “fetus ejection reflex” birth of my huge baby boy.
The case can be made however, that some hospital birthers epitomize no personal responsibility by regularly showing up to give birth and then expect the doctors and nurses to hand them a healthy baby, take away all the discomfort, and then feed that child with artificial milk, without so much as cracking a book open or bothering to take a childbirth class. As to who has the best outcome after birth…well, based on some of the “ignorance is bliss” scenarios I have been witness to over the years, some of these mothers learned the hard way that ignorance is not only dangerous, it can be deadly when too many drugs are involved in a hospital birth.
I guess I did have some labor support. Once while I was in the tub, two year old Jeff came into the bathroom to see what was going on, I was vocalizing very, very loudly during my contractions and he joined in with some loud AAAAaaaHHHHHHhhhhs of his own. It was really cute. Soon after that I had the self doubt sign post, but with this being my fourth birth, I said to myself “self doubt sign post, I will be pushing soon” and I was!
I suppose Dr. Amy would look at Paul calling 911 after the birth as evidence that as a family we expected others to do “all the work”. You know? After working every day to build my healthy child and then working for three hours to get him out of my womb in the most intense and profoundly spiritual “work” of my life, I guess it would be easy to make the jump that Paul dialing 911 set in motion the expectation that we expected “everyone” to do “everything” for us after our birth.
And everyone did do everything for us. The question is, Why is it bad if 8 to 10 % of home birthing mothers need to transfer to the hospital for help??? Isn’t that why they exist? To offer professional emergency services to those in need?
With that call, the floodgates opened up and we had this outpouring of help that was so amazing, I still cry when I think of all those firemen rushing to our aid to help Andy and I.
They were so kind, so helpful, so willing to do anything to help us after that birth. It was simply amazing. And when we landed in the hospital, they wanted to helicopter Andrew down to Denver to a better NICU. We said OK, and he spent four days being tortured while they tried to find something wrong with him. Never did find anything wrong, and he was released to our care.
I on the other hand bled out 90% of my blood volume, and felt my spirit leave my body while in the ER. After my near death experience I spent 28 hours doing everything I could think of to get better so I could go be with my son. The doctors gave me a bag of blood and my mormon bishop came in and held my hand while I was transfused. A whole groups of ladies from church showed up to offer help and support. I’ll never forget my friend Merrilee, (who had been told that Andy was going to die), whose young son had died a few years earlier, rushing to my side to support me. The look on her face as she walked into my room, I’ll never forget it. Just tender empathy and love pouring out of her for me and whatever trials I was facing in that moment. My hematocrit was four point seven after the birth, but after all of these efforts, the next day my crit was normal for a post partum woman and my doctor released me so I could travel down to Denver to be with Andy.
My friends Lily and Julia brought me wheat grass juice from Wild Oats to help my blood regenerate, and a lovely nurse spoon fed chicken soup into my mouth. My friend Kirsten rushed to my side after the birth and our friend Scott, a volunteer fireman, had heard the 911 call at home. His wife Suzanne also heard it, and yelled to him, “That’s Paul, get to the hospital.”
Because Scott was so quick on his feet, he arrived at the hospital before we did, and was ready and waiting to assist Paul in giving me and Andy a priesthood blessing.
Perhaps the greatest help offered after the birth was from our friend Joe Mangus, who was a member of our mormon congregation and a volunteer fireman. He came to our home and through a series of events ended up in the ambulence that Andy was being transported in to the hospital. He said that Andy was not doing well with his vital signs and he “prayed the biggest prayer of his life” and all of his vitals normalized and he pinked up right after the prayer. Joe had also lost a son in death and was so tuned in to our emotional needs as a family. Read my tribute to Joe here on my blog, he died last april.
The most memorable help we had was from our Hero, Fireman Shawn Clemenson. Shawn is our neighbor and he also heard the call come to his home. As a fireman he was supposed to get to the station first before coming to our home, but he just came directly as he was only a few blocks away. He was a young father and his wife had just given birth a few weeks before to their second daughter. She told him, “quick get your shoes on and get over to that house to help that family”. So he did.
He came pounding on the door and the girls let him in. He raced up to our bedroom where Paul and I were trying to get Andy to breathe. Andrews umbilical cord had snapped just after the birth, and we could not get him to take a breath. Shawn said he looked at Andy and later told me “I knew just what to do”. He put his mouth over Andys mouth and nose and sucked him out. He said he had a little mucous lodged in his throat. It was clear and he spit it out. Then he gave him three puffs of air and he said Andy opened his eyes. By the time he had done his little suck and spit routine, half of the Louisville Fire Department had showed up to help and he handed the baby off to an EMT.
Shawn is the professional who gets the most credit. His quick thinking and willingness to break the rules by not going to the station and by performing CPR on Andy saved his life. (Firemen are not supposed to come in contact with bodily fluids) Paul and I had been doing CPR on Andy as well, but we did not think to suck him out first, even though I had stashed three brand new bulb syringes around my bedroom for the birth.
When I told the NICU pediatrician what Shawn had done to resuscitate Andrew from the birth she confirmed that this was a superior way to suck out a newborn, as the mouth to mouth contact creates a true vacumn effect on the baby and really gets the junk out of their wind pipe. She told me that she had done it several times on newborns right after birth. I had never heard of it before watching Shawn do it.
The medical people were about half and half in terms of how they responded to us and our unassisted birth. Half were really nice and helpful and the other half were judgemental and rude.
Mostly they could not figure out why, if we had such great insurance, we would forgo their services until truly needed.
And I guess that is the final point that I would like to make in retelling Andys birth story. I had no plans to use them. I did not want to have anyone at my birth. I wanted to be completely alone and except for Jeff being with me for a few mintues in the bathroom, and Paul bringing me some water and giving me a little foot massage, I was completely alone during that birth until Andys head was completely pushed out of my body. It was only after his head was born that I called out to Paul that the baby was being born.
I had no expectation of anyone picking up the pieces of my birth. And I certainly never expected anyone to pay our bills, come visit me, or even take care of our three older children.
The fact that we indeed had great needs crop up, need for emergency medical care, professional transport to the hospital, and infant resuscitation and uterus clamping and transfusion, all of the scary post birth scenarios, all at the same time…
Does the fact that we planned a home birth and I did my own prenantal care somehow exclude me from the use of those emergency services? We are taxpayers, our money pays into the various infrastructures that have been set up to provide emergency services for the citizens of our community. Does someone think that a mother who births out of the hospital for any reason, even an unplanned emergency childbirth, somehow DESERVES to die because she had the gall to go into labor without being induced at 37 weeks?
Because I was willing to take personal responsibility for my birth and did not expect anyone to do anything for me during pregnancy and birth somehow I and my child are NOT WORTHY to use the hospital system when the help was truly needed and life saving for both of us???
I am so grateful for the literally dozens and dozens of people in my community who dropped everything on a saturday morning to help our family. The last thing in the world that I wanted was to have those particular post birth complications happen. But you know what? They did happen, and we needed every single person who flew to our aid.
From the spiritual and emotional support of our religious community to the very competent and excellent care from the medical people to the support of neighbors, friends, relatives, and the many firement and emt’s who were involved in our transfer. We needed them all.
My father in law wanted to help when he heard how much blood I had lost and so he offered to pay for a weeks worth of Postpartum Ayurdoula Care from Martha Oaks.
What can I say about Martha??? A Blessed and wonderful soul. I met Martha at a Suzanne Arms event in Boulder in 1995. A few of us after the event decided that we wanted to continue getting together monthly and so Martha offered to host our group at her home in Boulder. Laura Shanley, Martha, and a few others planning home births met and supported each other through that year. I discovered that I was expecting Andrew during the year we met together and this group was crucial for support.
As I went through this bonding experience with Martha and opened up my heart to the passion she has for healing mothers during the Sacred Window of the six weeks post partum, I had the deep desire enter my heart to hire her for my after care. But we did not have the money to do it.
Because my father in law was willing to help, he payed the $700.00 for a weeks worth of her amazing care. It was during this week that I experienced a profound shift in my healing using Young Living Essential Oils. Martha had just been introduced to them herself, and as she played around with them during our ninety minute massage sessions, (I had FIVE 90 minute massages during this week) – I felt my body and spirit respond to this touch in the most amazing way. This greatly aided my bonding with Andy, and helped to get the breastmilk flowing. I was able to nurse Andy and a very demanding two year old Jeff for seven months on demand and I know this week of care kicked my body into high gear with food metabolism, as the main goal of the care was to nurture me so that I could in turn nurture my child.
I can’t say enough about this protocol for healing. Martha taught me that it is the only healing protocol that has as one of its goals the prevention of post partum psychosis. Because psychosis relapse has always been in the back of my mind during my post partum times, how wonderful to learn of a healing method that could help me PREVENT this illness!!!
After Martha finished her week of care, my sister Lisa packed her two sons in the car and drove over from Provo Utah, where her husband was attending BYU, and she took care of me and our family for a week. Then my mother came for a week, and Pauls parents also came during the third week to be present for Andrews Baby blessing.
After they all left I took a deep breath and began the healing process by trying to reconcile everything that had happened. My number one intention with my birth was to be able to bond with my son without anyone taking him from my arms, and that is why I chose a UC solo birth. The fact that I did not see him or get to bond with him until he was 28 hours old was such a difficult thing to reconcile and heal from. But day by day we worked through the breach in our relationship and by the time he was six months old I was feeling much more reconciled to the way it all went.
I am so grateful for the many people who played a role around his birth, and will never forget the outpouring of love and help that was given to us. I did not expect or plan for this help to be offered, and the fact that it was made me so grateful to live in a community and be a part of two extended families who were willing to do whatever they could to help our little family.
Birth #5 – Benjamin 2002
I have perhaps written more about Bens birth and postpartum that all of my other children combined, so I will not take the time to revisit the various details of his birth. For the complete story, purchase my book, A Lotus Birth for the details of his pregnancy, birth, and post partum.
Since this post is specifically about Doulas, I will give the details of my care from Amy Thompson, who was trained by Martha Oakes in the Postpartum Ayurdoula Care and was referred to me by Martha.

Amy cost $6,000.00 during my post partum, and I spent about $1200.00 on Wendys care during my pregnancy. Both therapists set up their tables in my bedroom and did the work in my home, awesome for a busy homeschooling mother!
The year that Ben was conceived Andrea Yates was being prosecuted for killing her five children during a post partum psychosis. This media covereage truly freaked Paul and I out, and I made the decision during early in my pregnancy that I was going to hire a doula for the full six weeks of care after my birth. I invited Amy over and we discussed the terms of my care. My intention was to have her start care around the birth and then continue during the six weeks postpartum. She asked for $6,000.00 for all of her services and I agreed.

Jenny with Ben after the delivery of my placenta.

Her care included:
Five days before my birth we had our first session. She set up her massage table in my bedroom and gave me a ninety minute massage. She also brought me five ounces of wheat grass juice from Wild Oats and I used this as a rectal implant to up my hematocrit and cleanse my blood. Every time Amy came to my house she brought this juice to my house. She got on a first name basis with the wheat grass guy at the store. I almost never drank it because it tended to make me nauseated during pregnancy, but the infusion into my colon always gave me an energy boost and really helped nourish my cells.
During the week before Bens birth she came five times, including the day of the birth. In fact she gave me a massage, left our home, and a few minutes later I went into active labor. I called her the next morning and asked her to come again and give me another massage, and she did. Nine hours after the birth I was being lovingly worked on by this amazing healer. (I also called my chiropractor for a home visit and he came that morning to adjust me and Ben)
Amy continued to come monday through friday, every day for about two hours to give me the massage, work on Ben a little and bring me hot vegetarian food that was prepared with the most loving intention. I believe the food was as important as the massage in helping me to recover from the birth. When I finally made it back to church when Ben was three weeks old, my friends told me that I did not look like I had just given birth to a fifth child.
Her massages included the complete Ayurdoula protocol, with heat, olive oil, and essential oil enhancement. She did cranial work on me every time, and her energy work was the best I have ever experienced. During one of our sessions I was able to access a traumatic memory, and quickly process it out. She was able to support my brain using cranial work, while this most traumatic of memories surfaced (I was gang raped in the state mental hospital during my post partum psychosis by four orderlies who worked at the facility). As the memory surfaced I had no overwhelm, no crying, just quiet acknowledgement of what had happened. It was and remains a sacred healing moment in my life.
The food was prepared using Ayurvedic principles and is designed to give the mother the most rapid recovery possible.
Having had the whole six weeks of care, I believe every mother should do whatever is in her power to obtain this care for every baby she has.

I gave Benjamin several massages a day during the early weeks, using Young Living Essential Oils and pure Olive Oil.
It was the most luscious thing I have ever done for myself, and I think our society would be well served if all mothers and the medical profession could be educated in these principles for rapid post partum recovery.
Post Partum Depression rates would drop overnight if every mother was able to get this sort of care during the window of healing around birth, and our society would take a quantum leap forward in overall health and well being.
I was going to share a few more testimonials and pictures from the various births I have attended as a doula, but this post is getting rather large, so I will save that task for another day.
I pray that every mother will seek out the care that serves her and her family best, and I support all women using any sort of professional for whatever birth and post partum care she feels is best for her and her child.
For me, unassisted childbirth with my husband coupled with six weeks of Ayurdoula care was the perfect scenario for our family. My only regret is that I did not learn of these things until my fifth pregnancy and 14 years into my mothering, and it was only the terror of what was happening in our media around the Yates case that compelled me to fork out the money to do it.
Having experienced the care, I believe those six thousand dollars were the best money I have ever spent on anything I have done for my health and I would challenge parents to reconsider how they configure their own priorities on how the health care money is to be deployed in creating a healthy family.
Jenny Hatch

It was such a blessing to make it to my little sister Cathys first birth.
Here are her memories of that night. (She is currently expecting her fourth baby)

“Hey Jen,

Sorry this has taken me so long- I’ve been really sick. I couldn’t find a detailed journal entry so I am just writing this from memory:

On Dec 16, 1999, I knew I was in labor. My baby was 12 days overdue and the contractions were quite regular. I phoned my older sister, Jenny at about 7:00pm. I was really hoping she could somehow attend my birth but knew chances were slim. Jenny quickly drove to the Denver airport and by some miracle arrived in Minneapolis 2 1/2 hours later. By this time, the contractions were very strong and I was having trouble timing them. They were still 7 or 8 minutes apart. My husband and I were first time parents and so grateful to have someone more experienced with us. Jenny helped me to get comfortable and made sure I had a water bottle bottle with some honey in it for energy. At about midnight, my contractions were 5 minutes apart and we decided to go to the hospital. We had been planning and preparing for a natural childbirth.

My labor was difficult b/c my son was posterior and I was having a lot of back labor. My baby’s heart rate also kept going way down during every contraction, presumably b/c the cord was getting squeezed. I was in a lot of pain and my husband and I were both quite scared. Jenny’s presence was so comforting to both of us. She rubbed my back and encouraged the nurses to bring me hot towels to help with the pain. She kept whispering positive thoughts to me and humming hymns.

The nurse midwife was the exact opposite. She kept reminding me that things weren’t going smoothly and seemed to be prepping me (emotionally) for a c- section. Every time she came in the room I just wanted her to leave. She brought a negative spirit into the room, which was the last thing I needed. Both my husband and I were so grateful that my sister was there to counter that negativity. It made such a difference for us. After 2 1/2 hours of pushing, I finally agreed to an episiotemy and my son was born. I was disappointed that I had to have an episiotemy but so grateful that the labor was over. My son was perfect! He couldn’t have been healthier and began to nurse right away.

I can’t say for sure how the labor would have gone if my sister had not been present but my guess is that I would have felt pressured into more agressive ways to speed up labor. Just having my sister by my side gave me more confidence to stick to the birth plan I had written. I can also say for sure that I would have been much more frightened. It was wonderful to have someone present who had seen natural childbirth and was confident in the process.

As an aside, for my second birth I hired a doula (Jenny was busy taking care of her 2 month old :). Again, I was so grateful to have someone calm and supportive there to help me and my husband. Our doula did a wonderful job of helping to keep me comfortable, both physically and emotionally. I was able to have another healthy baby without any medication or intervention. I would strongly recommend a doula to anyone but especially to first time mothers.

Love ya Jen- Cath”

Here is a testimonial from my best friend Susana from the birth of her second child Robert James. Our friendship truly began the night of his birth.

“While pregnant with my second child, Jenny Hatch offered to attend my birth as a doula. Initially, I was unfamiliar with the term and unsure about having a “stranger” at my birth. However, the idea of having a woman, trained and experienced in accomplishing natural childbirth, who would be with me throughout the labor, became very appealing to me.

My son ended up being in a posterior position during most of my labor and this was very painful. Jenny was my “walking epidural.” She offered suggestions for coping with the pain (like using the water, swaying my hips, breathing, etc…) and she also taught my husband how to apply counter pressure to my lower back. (This was so effective that he has done this during the five subsequent births of our children.) Had Jenny not been with me, I would have suffered immensely and though I am very against it, I may have even asked for medication. My husband and I both were, and continue to be, deeply grateful for Jenny’s assistance during the birth of our son, Robert-James.”

Robert James is now thirteen years old.

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