"There are not enough words to express how much I have appreciated Anna as my doula! She honestly goes above and beyond her duties to make our whole family feel supported and loved! My soul sister had a doula for her recent birth and highly suggested getting one since my husband (Rolf) and I have no close friends or family in the area that could help support our birth. My husband was a little unsure at first, but after our birth instructor also emphasized it being a good idea, he got on board. We interviewed three doulas and immediately after interviewing Anna, we turned to each other and said "Yup;" we knew she was the right fit for us. Anna has this personality you just can't help but click and get along with- she is warm, passionate, honest, and knowledgeable; perfect for first-time parents.
Anna made everything so easy for us and time after time she was there supporting us. She did home visits for pre- and post-pregnancy (we live in Fayetteville), listened to our concerns, and offered sound advice. At our birth, she provided different positions, heat pack and pressure, rebozo, and ideas to help the birthing process. She helped me advocate for myself and keep me on track for my birth plan on items we could control. With her assistance, and the assistance of my birth team, we had a very powerful and empowering birth; I can honestly say the experience would not have gone as smoothly without her. After our birth, we had breastfeeding difficulties. When Anna heard, she came to visit and talk about what had happened as well as what we could do moving forward and offered some other suggestions. In sum, Anna is an amazing and thoughtful woman who goes above and beyond our expectations. She has helped us meet our goals, and adjust them when things didn't go according to plan. Anna has been such a blessing to our family, our lives are better because we hired Anna as our doula."
~Amanda (Mother of Madison)
Hospital Birth | Unmedicated Natural Birth | Raleigh, NC
****All images and birth story shared with permission from client****
Amanda and Rolf decided to hire a doula based on the recommendation of their childbirth educator, Taryn Leary from Birth is a Journey. They interviewed with a few differentdoulas, and felt like they clicked the best with me. They were expecting their first child, and were such a fun couple to interview with. I was very excited to be working with them. The week before Amanda’s due date, she had a few ‘false alarms’, but things would always slow back down. On December 1st, 2015 at 10:45am, I sent Amanda a text to check in and see how she was doing. She said contractions had started back up again, but she didn’t think they were regular enough to time yet. She said the baby felt very heavy and lower than ever. She also said she was feeling a little funny and was considering going home from work. I told her those were all good signs and to listen to her body and do what felt right, and to keep me updated.
I didn’t hear from Amanda again until 11:30am on December 2nd. She sent me a text saying that contractions were progressing slowly, but getting stronger. She said she was also losing more mucous. She said the contractions were still all over the place, and that it was just the intensity that was changing. I asked her how she slept the night before and if she could walk and talk through the contractions. She said she could bounce on the ball and talk through them, and that she had slept okay the night before. She’d have about one strong contraction an hour that would wake her up. Around 1:00pm, Amanda sent me another text to let me know that in the last hour she had six longer contractions and a few shorts ones. She said some were close together and some far apart. I told her to keep an eye on them, and maybe try getting in the bath to see if things would slow down or stop. I also told her to try to take a nap and to continue eating and drinking. I wanted her to stay well rested and hydrated. She said she was eating lunch then, pulled pork and a milkshake, and was planning on taking a nap after.
At 9:34pm, Amanda contacted me. She said she took a bath and contractions picked up and they were getting more frequent, regular, and stronger. She said they were about 8 minutes apart, 20 seconds long, and she could still talk through them, but they were getting longer and stronger. I told her it definitely sounded like early labor, and to try to sleep if she could. I also suggested a couple of different positions she could try to sleep more comfortably. She said she would try and would keep me updated. At 11:53pm, Amanda sent me a text to say they were leaving Fayetteville. The hospital was over an hour away. She said depending on how close together the contractions were once they got to Raleigh, they would either get a hotel room or go ahead to the hospital. She said she could no longer relax enough to sleep at home. At 1:09am on December 3rd, Amanda said they decided to head to the hospital. Contractions were 3.5-4.5 minutes apart and about 30 seconds long.
I arrived at the hospital a little after 2:00am. Amanda was in the bed being monitored. Amanda’s mom, Bena, and Rolf were sitting and talking with Amanda. Amanda was handling contractions very well, and was just waiting for the initial monitoring to be done so that she could get up and move around. At 2:30am, the doctor came in. She introduced herself to everybody, and asked Amanda if she could check her cervix. Amanda agreed. The doctor checked her and she was 5 cm dilated and 80% effaced. After the check, Amanda got on the birth ball. This was her favorite place to labor. She felt very comfortable on the ball. I would apply heat and counter pressure to her back during contractions. Amanda’s mom would sit in front of Amanda and hold her hand. She stayed in this position until about 6:30am.
At this time, I noticed her contractions were starting to slow down and space out. I suggested that it might help if she got upright and moved around for a while. She reluctantly agreed. She walked around the room and did lunges for about 45 minutes. During contractions, she would lean on the counter or the back of the recliner while I applied heat and counter pressure. Either Rolf or Bena would hold her hand and offer encouraging words.
Around 7:15am, Amanda began to get really tired. She felt like she should rest for a little while, so she sat on the ball and slept in between contractions. Contractions once again began to slow down. She was able to get a short nap in. After that nap she felt much more energized. Around 8:30am, she got up again. I used my rebozo to bind her belly, and she walked around the room for a while. We thought that the baby might be OP due to the contraction pattern and back pain Amanda was experiencing. I suggested she try getting on hands and knees for a while to see if that would help. She got on hands and knees in the bed, and leaned on the peanut ball for support. She stayed in this position for about 25 minutes, and then her knees began to hurt. Around 9:15am, she got up again and walked around the room.
At 9:50am, the nurse came in and wanted to monitor the baby. Unfortunately, they were having a lot of trouble finding the heart beat when Amanda was upright. She agreed to lie on her side on the bed for 20 minutes to be monitored. After the monitoring was done, Amanda got up again. She walked around the room, doing lunges and squats. She would lean on whatever was closest to her every time a contraction came. I would do the hip squeeze with the rebozo, as well as, apply heat and pressure to her back. Rolf was on one side of her, and her mom on the other. Both were supporting Amanda beautifully. Around 10:45am, things really started to intensify for Amanda. She no longer felt up to walking around between contractions. She would just lean on the counter and sway. She was really getting into her labor zone. She was doing an incredible job working through each contraction.
At 11:00am, Amanda’s water broke. It broke while she was standing and leaning on the counter. There was meconium in the amniotic fluid. She continued to labor in this position for another hour and a half. It had been a while since Amanda had emptied her bladder, so I suggested that she try doing that, as well as, work through a few contractions while on the toilet. She did this for about 20 minutes. She mentioned that her legs were really tired, and she wanted to be able to rest for a little bit. She didn’t want to lie down though, as it made the contractions unbearable. Things were very intense for Amanda at this point, and it was definitely clear that she was going through transition. We were able to set up the bed in a way that Amanda could sit and rest her legs, by lowering the bottom and arranging pillows. She did a great job working through contractions in this position. She would rest her head back with a cool cloth on her forehead in between contractions. During contractions, we put the heating pad behind her back, and Rolf held one of her hands, and I held the other. She would do horsey lips during contractions to help her body stay relaxed.
At 1:45 pm, the nurse came in and checked Amanda’s cervix. She was completely dilated, and the baby was at a +1 station! Amanda didn’t really feel the urge to push yet, so the nurse told her she could labor down for a little while or start pushing. The nurse left, and we all discussed her options. Amanda decided she wanted to go ahead and try pushing some. She pushed through some contractions and breathed through others. She stayed in sitting position on the bed for a while. At 2:45pm, she felt like she needed to go to the bathroom. I suggested that she go and try pushing on the toilet for a while, since that can be a very effective place to push. She did this for about 30 minutes.
At 3:15pm, the nurse said they needed to monitor the baby’s heart rate for a while. They were having trouble getting it while Amanda was on the toilet. She returned to the bed and pushed side lying. This is when Amanda really started to do big, hard pushes. She pushed on her side for a while, and then on her back. Finally at 4:36pm, Madison was born! Madison did have to get taken over to the warmer to get suctioned, but Amanda and Rolf were so overjoyed to have her here. Rolf was in tears, and the minute Madison was placed on Amanda’s chest, her whole face lit up. Amanda’s mom was so excited to meet her, too. They were all head over heels in love! It was such a beautiful birth, and Amanda was so strong and powerful throughout the whole process!
All images taken by Amanda Ditzel at Raleigh Birth Photography
Check out Madison's birth video below, also by Amanda Ditzel at Raleigh Birth Photography
Please feel free to share your birth stories here. The more women can read empowering birth stories, the more confident they can feel in their own births! Please email birth stories to email@example.com