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This post is inspired by a question my very-pregnant friend asked me. She wanted to know if hiring a doula was worth it and asked about my experience with mine. Like me, she wants to try for a natural, medication-free birth and has been preparing herself by taking Bradley Classes.
This was my response:
When we decided to hire a doula, my line of thinking was… you only get ONE shot at this first pregnancy thing. There is no second chance, and I wanted to give myself the best chance possible for success. As a first time mom, you don’t know what the hospital is like and you don’t know what medications you should/shouldn’t give your baby. You’re in labor and not able to think that clearly… I was likely to agree to anything the doctors & nurses suggested. However, I wanted to make the most informed decisions possible for me and my baby. A doula has that experience to guide you and tell you what’s coming next from beginning to end. Knowing what came next helped me stay calm and assured. I felt like I knew what I was doing, even though I had never done this before!!
During our labor, our doula was an invaluable asset. She really guided Sam and I felt soo supported by my husband. He in turn felt like he really contributed and was a part of the birth process rather than a helpless bystander. We felt like ONE and we were stronger for it. When I was in unbearable pain she suggested different positions that helped a lot. When I felt like I needed an epidural she kept me focused and reminded me what I really wanted. She was soothing and patient and fully present.
Then after labor, when the nurses were asking our permission to give Noelle this shot or that shot, we were able to say yes to some and no to others. Some shots are procedural, but not really necessary. Our doula gave us direction in an unbiased way. Based on her thoughts combined with what we had learned in our Bradley Classes, we were able to make informed decisions without simply following the status quo. Our doula also stayed an additional 2-hours post-delivery as a lactation consultant to help our baby latch correctly, so breastfeeding was never an issue for us. The story doesn’t end there…
Noelle was diagnosed with Jaundice and had to undergo blue-light therapy. I was upset because her bilrubin levels were only borderline (and my gut sense was that her bilrubin counts were artificially high because she’s naturally yellow due to her Asian heritage). I did not like all the poking and prodding they were doing to her. I also felt we could’ve done the therapy at home, but they forced us to stay an additional day at the hospital and Noelle had to have UV-light therapy in an incubator. The nurses also tried to supplement my baby with formula under the advice of an on-site Pediatrician. I refused and our doula stood up for us. If I didn’t have my doula as my advocate I might’ve just said OK to everything the hospital threw at us. Shoot – what did we know, right? We were just green, newbie, first-time parents at that point up against “medical professionals”!
Our doula came by every day to check up on us. One night, she even swung by when she was on a date night with her husband! I will forever remember her immense care and concern for us even though she’d done a million births by then. We could’ve just been “another family” to her, but we weren’t. She treated us like we were the most important thing in her life at that moment because she knew it was the most important time in life for us. She went above and beyond “the hours” that we paid her. She could’ve just walked out of that hospital 2 hours after delivery and fulfilled her duties, but she did so much more…
In the end, I walked away with an amazingly positive and memorable first birth experience. I look back on that day and smile. It’s ONE day in your entire life. It’s a day you’ll always remember and can never get back. It’s a day I didn’t want to leave to chance, so that’s why we decided to hire a doula.
Not a single regret.
Hey Noelle, look at your young Daddy learning to swaddle! One day you’ll look back at this and laugh because we’re still so young and inexperienced with all of this. :)
Sidenote: Thanks for those who commented on their guess for the gender! I actually created a POLL on the right side of this blog, so if you don’t mind, can you vote again there?
Since I started this blog late, there are a few topics I want to catch up on – one of them being Pregnancy Nutrition. Aiaiaiaii it’s unfortunate that so many of my favorite foods are on this list!
According to The American Pregnancy Association, these are the Foods I need to avoid while pregnant:
- Raw/Rare Meat - If you know me, you know the only way I like to eat steak is red, bloody, and rare.
- Deli Meat/Meat with Nitrates – Can be contaminated with listeria, which can cause miscarriage. I wasn’t too sad about this until I found out it makes eating sandwiches difficult, including my favorite Subway! However, I’ve learned to go to the deli and have them slice fresh meats for me. I also can’t have salami or prosciutto, which I loved pairing with soft cheeses (another nono – see below).
- Fish with Mercury - Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. I don’t know what half these fishies are.
- Fish Exposed to Industrial Pollutants - That means NO salmon.
- Smoked seafood - I’m truly sad about the inability to eat smoked salmon.
- Raw Shellfish - Why do I love oysters??
- Raw Eggs - Ew. Salmonella anyone?
- Soft Cheeses – No feta, goat cheese, or brie. These are 3 of my favorite cheeses! Whyyy..
- Unpasteurized milk - I wouldn’t even know where to begin to find this, unless you live on a farm? I’m drinking TONS of organic milk now though!
- Pate - Another luxury I wouldn’t be able to eat even if I could.
- Caffeine - It’s recommended that pregnant women drink no more than one cup of coffee per day. I’m trying not to drink any, but with my packed school schedule there are days when no caffeine just won’t do, especially when I have a big test ahead.
- Alcohol – I’m not much of an alcohol drinker to begin with, but it’s funny what you crave when you can’t have it at all – cocktails and wines of all sorts look quite enticing these days.
It’s unlisted here, but the most challenging thing for me to give up has actually been Diet Soda.
No studies have been done on artificial sweeteners and its effects on pregnancy, so it’s recommended that we limit our intake. However, drinking fruit juices, ice cold milk, and sparkling water has helped curb this craving a lot. After weeks of feeling deprived, I’m actually not missing soda anymore. Here’s to hoping this will be a permanent, healthy change in my life!
It’s also recommended that Pregnant women eat 80-100 grams of protein per day. For the most part I’ve been able to reach this goal, which I track through an excel sheet created by The Bradley Method’s Pregnancy Diet. I get my protein mostly through eggs, and lots of milk and yogurt. Every time I’m thirsty I make a grab for that carton of milk and guzzle guzzle. Since I can’t eat rare beef, I have no desire to eat any kind of beef at all (unless it’s KBBQ). I get my chicken in once in awhile, but I don’t really eat chicken at home on a regular basis. I’m learning to find new foods to enjoy, and knowing that my choices can affect baby in either a positive or negative way motivates me to be on my best behavior!
Are you there little one? Mommy loves you very much and already would give up anything for you.
One of the first questions people asked me when they first found out I was pregnant was, “What do you crave?” – to be honest, I haven’t had any weird, abnormal cravings! The only thing that I’ve consistently craved is PBJ sandwiches. I eat them every.single.day. My typical breakfast is 1 large glass of milk, 1 overeasy egg, and 2 slices of whole wheat bread with PB and J on both sides (I like to eat them open-faced so I can taste the PBJ more). Sounds pretty balanced to me – got some dairy, got some protein, got some healthy fats, got some good carbs, got some sweet and some salty.
I love breakfast!
Instead of food cravings though, I do get “food aversions”. I used to LOVEEEE korean food, but these days when my husband suggests we go to my fave Korean restaurant (Kaya), I usually respond with a “no, thank you” – it just doesn’t appeal to me lately. That’s the biggest change I can think of, but other than that I still like the things I like and don’t like the things I don’t like. Not eating pickles and ice cream quite yet! No cravings for sawdust either (whew!) <– FYI, this is a very real concern Pregnant women go through – it’s called Pica.
I’ve deviated back and forth about doing a Natural Birth over the years, but what cinched it for me was the documentary The Business of Being Born (if you have Netflix you can watch it on Netflix streaming) on top of talking to some women at my church who are strong advocates for doing it the natural way.
I didn’t know so much went into doing a Natural Birth – you really have to be prepared! Little did I know, you can’t just walk into the hospital on labor day and attempt to do a natural birth. As soon as I mentioned I wanted to a natural birth, I discovered a slew of friends and acquaintances who had actually done it. They couldn’t express enough how worthwhile and fulfilling the whole experience was. I was told about The Bradley Method (thanks again for all the great advice, Nancy!), which is a 12 week series of classes that prepares you for natural birth. I did my research, found a Bradley Birth Teacher in my area, and proceeded to set up an initial consult.
We met with Melissa Parker for the first time on Thursday and we think she’s a good fit for us! She had this genuine, warm vibe to her and was very easy to talk to. She is also a certified doula and lactation consultant. The cherry on top is that she is Christian. She was pretty vocal about her faith even before she knew we were Christians.
Due to my busy school schedule and night classes, we can’t take the 12-week group classes with her. However, her private sessions are the same price and only 6-8 weeks in length. Nearly 90% of Bradley Birth mommies are able to successfully do a natural birth – here’s to hoping we add to that statistic!
We also decided to hire her as our doula, which includes the lactation services. With this being our first child, we want to make sure we’re as prepared as possible. She will be our voice when we’re too tired, frantic, and frazzled the day of delivery. I also heard breastfeeding is no easy feat, so her guidance should help a lot for a first time mommy like me!