by Jules Baird (BirthWorks Birth Doula Student)
“She's coming, she's coming, she's coming!" exclaimed the birthing mother. "Your body and your baby clearly know exactly what they are doing. We are here with
you," I responded as her doula. My name is Jules. I live down here in Christchurch, New Zealand and have recently attended my first two births as a Doula in training with Birthworks International. In my first birth as a doula, I was welcomed and encompassed by the beautiful home birth midwives and able to support my friend to have an empowering calm home birth.
My second birth was just a month or so later with a mother having her fourth baby and with a history of fast births. Her second child was a planned home birth with a midwife
after a traumatic hospital first birth. The baby arrived on the bathroom floor before her midwife arrived. Her mother-in-law was present and all were well, but it was a scary
experience for this mother. She was able to have a slower calm, attended water-birth with her third in her living room. Now, her fourth pregnancy was a surprise and caught mother and father off guard. For them, it took many months to come to terms with having a fourth unplanned child. I met her late in her pregnancy when she had injured her ankle and was left mostly immobile. We formed a strong connection over several visits and I noted her main fears were to be alone during birth and to have an injury due to a fast labor.
The day came. I answered my phone at 2:50am to a very calm positive voice saying, "I think the baby is coming." “What’s happening?” I asked. “I’ve been contracting for half an hour and my water just broke. Yes, come!” Even though her tone was very calm and relaxed, I took her call for me to come very seriously and got to her house 15 minutes later (thankfully she lived very close). Walking in, I heard the mum on the phone saying to her midwife,"Ok,...I suppose I will call you back when I really, really need you here.” She sounded slightly dejected.
I greeted her husband who was busy in the kitchen boiling water and beginning to fill the pool. I rounded the corner to greet mum with a smile as she rolled onto her knees on the couch as a very strong contraction began. "Wow this is very, very strong...this is the first one like this...maybe I do need to call my midwife back," she says through some low primal groans. Her body seemed to shift gear as soon as soon as I, her support person, arrived. I applied back pressure through this contraction and when it has passed I asked, “Would you like me to dial your midwife or shall we wait for one more contraction?” “Wait for another contraction,” she decides.
Moments later, the next contraction came, even stronger than the last one. We move through this contraction together and then she dials her midwife. As she does, I look and see the pool is a long way from full so I quickly take a hot water bottle, fill it and wrap it in a clean towel to support her with heat (a decision that turned into a small miracle later on, from a carer’s perspective). The next contraction was stronger again and with a panicked voice and low grunting this beautiful mother moved to the ground on some clean towels her husband and I lay out and said, "She's coming, she's coming, she's coming!"
Mindful that too many words keep a mother in her higher cortex, I wanted to find a way to validate her fears and calm her in the same moment. So choosing my words very
carefully, I said in a soft warm tone, "I know you don't want your baby to arrive before your midwife. Know that your body and your baby clearly know exactly what they are doing. We are here with you." With that, she seemed to calm slightly and go inward finally joining her baby on the journey to her. Her baby was clearly moving very fast and mums breath was very quick.
Mindful that she was worried of tearing due to a quick labor, I then said in a calm voice. "Let’s just slow things down a little by slowing our breath," and I breathed slowly with
her. With that, she really slowed and became calm and present as her baby began to crown. But just then, another moment of worry emerged from her, "Who will catch my baby?" (as she was on all fours and didn't want to move). "Dad is here ready to catch your baby," I said giving him a big nod, “I’m here to support you too" and showing where his hands needed to be. He watched his daughter’s head be born and slowly rotate. I sensed a moment of worry from him that he may not be able to catch his baby, so I put my hands down well below
his to show him support and reassure him (although for me I had already made a mental note to myself that I would do everything possible to not touch her baby, as that
is not my role and furthermore wanting to protect the microbiome of this little one). A moment later their beautiful little girl slid out into her father’s hands, and I helped talk
mum through carefully lifting one leg so dad could pass baby under to her. I moved closer to mum as she sat back and brought her baby up to her chest with the most
beautiful calm, empowered look on her face. I remember thinking with reverence, “Wow, birth is just so normal." I was so caught up in the moment!
Then, suddenly feeling responsible to some degree, thoughts came to me, “Check the baby’s color. Check the baby’s breathing. Keep the baby warm.” I quickly turned to my side seeing a clean towel wrapped in a hottie. What a miracle! We wrapped their new baby girl promptly in a beautiful warm towel and laid her on her on mum’s chest. She was born ten minutes after I arrived and half an hour before the midwife arrived. The mother has since told me how empowering this birth experience was for her. She said it could have easily been just as scary as her second unattended birth but simply having someone with her that was calm and positive really allowed her to step into the moment and be present with her baby girl as they began their next journey of life together. For me, this birth was one of the biggest divine gifts I will ever receive. It showed me that both my knowledge of birth and my ability to calmly trust my instincts in the moment, were enough to significantly support and help the mother, father, and baby to
have an empowering birth experience.
Later in the kitchen the father beamed saying to me, "I can't believe I delivered my daughter!"
As this was my second experience with birth support to date, and a much more close up one than my first beautiful experience, I did find myself thinking of all that could have
gone wrong later in the day... I have been able to settle on the reassurance for myself that, if anything untoward would have happened, we would have worked through that
together in love. The key words that linger for me are “Together with Love.” The birth was a gift my soul will always remember.