Birth doula

I’ve read a lot of really inspiring stories about moms who have been fortunate enough to experience a natural, unmedicated birth. The most inspiring book I read was Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth; it was really eye-opening to me how amazing and magical the birth process can be when you can fully be immersed in the moment and be completely present. Some have given birth at birth centers. Others have given birth at home in their own bathtub (or on a chair, and even standing up!). Some women have had the double privilege of giving birth at a birth center that is affiliated and attached to a hospital. Unfortunately, I just found out that Mount Sinai West, the hospital closest to us that is just one block away, recently closed their birth center in December 2019. Fortunately, though, all their midwives are still delivering with their usual philosophy and methods at the maternity ward at Mount Sinai, and they also work closely with OB-GYNs if medical intervention is needed. But again, the unfortunate part of this? The Central Park Midwifery group that delivers babies here is 100 percent out of network, much to my dismay. So that’s a no-go for me.

I really like my OB-GYN, as I’ve been going to her for nearly ten years now. I love her practice, and I’ve enjoyed meeting with her practice partners. They are actually known as being one of the practices in Manhattan that advocates for “low intervention,” meaning that they will not force a c-section or episiotomy or epidural on you unless there’s actually a medical necessity for that. It’s sad that I cannot say that about all practices in this city or country given that doctors and hospitals clearly profit more from c-sections and the addition of more procedures/medications than from less.

But despite liking my OB a lot, she’s not going to be with me throughout the entire labor process, as she will be on call at the hospital and attending to many moms in labor. She will likely only be able to pop in at the very end of the pushing stage. For that reason, I feel like I may want a birth doula for emotional support and guidance. I need someone who’s going to know what stages I am going through, how to help from a physical and emotional perspective (do I need my hips pressed? my back massaged? do I need a slow dance to relieve pelvic pain?), and how to ultimately advocate for me. A lot of people say that’s what your partner is for, but to me, that’s a little like the blind leading the blind; my husband has never attended to a birth, nor does he have the faintest idea what is going to help relieve labor pain or the right touch or massage techniques to make me feel better in these moments.

I’ve started meeting with some potential birth doulas. I don’t think I’ve found the right fit just yet, but I am interested to see who I mesh with and how this all turns out.

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