Happy 32 weeks! As I write this I’m officially 36 weeks pregnant and very much feeling the stress of packing a hospital bag and actually get some sh@t done. I’m guessing a lot of women take their maternity leave soon-ish, but I’m working until my due date (which I know I’m very lucky to be able to do) so I actually don’t have a huge amount of time to go buy stuff…..and on top of that, somehow now is the time people are really clamouring to see me and Mr Wanderluce so our social life is unnecessarily busy. So we don’t have a cot, or a crib….or whatever the fudge babies are supposed to sleep in, but so what? The NHS will give us a cool box apparently, just like they do in Finland. Next we’ll be embracing Hygge birthing units….gah.
One thing I do feel pretty prepped for is my birth preferences. This might sound a little strange, but my experience of planning a wedding made me really keen to do things differently. I was advised over and over again to hold off, not to worry about planning things and to wait before sending this or that card, book this or that. But in the end it was such a rush and we ended up scrapping things we really wanted to do because we’d lost the will to live and couldn’t care less whether we got married or not at all……
Obviously, I didn’t want a repeat of the wedding. Namely, us both getting drunk, spending thousands and wishing we’d eloped. The baby deserves better 😉
You already know we’ve decided to plan for a home birth, but I’m super open minded (it’s my first baby, so I am more likely to end up in hospital for various reasons because of that) and regardless of how I get the baby out, I know I want it to be positive (which it can be!)
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Because of that, I decided to hire a Doula. What is a Doula? They essentially bridge the gap between midwifery and birth partner. Because I don’t know how fair or realistic it is to expect Oli to take on such a humungous role on the day, when he has no idea what the f is going on and generally wants to hide in a corner. He is my main birth partner, obvs, but he will also need a little bit of support — and neither me or the midwives have got time to be providing that.
Which is where the Doula steps in.
To Doula or Not to Doula
My amazing Doula, Olivia, will be on call from week 38 (in real time, two weeks today) and is able to offer far more flexibility than a midwife in terms of the amount of time she’ll stay with me. She can come before I’m a centimetre dilated if I want her to, bugger off whenever I ask, and she’ll stay right through to the birth and tick me in bed with some tea and toast. If I have a caesarian, all the same rules apply (although she wouldn’t come into theatre) and if I’m transferred to hospital it’s the same too.
We’ve all met a few times and she knows what I want from the birth, what I’m scared of (tearing!!!) and why I’ll probably want to be by myself for a lot of the labour. She’ll be there to make me a brew and some tea after the birth, and help me feed the baby. And while she’ll offer no clinical expertise, she can help with any issues I might face afterwards by finding someone who can advise me.
Each Doula offers differing packages based on their experience, and Olivia is a mentored Doula meaning that she is at the cheaper end (seriously, a bargain!) but she has a supervisor to advise her. A little like when your therapist has a more experience therapist to supervise their practice. You should expect ante-natal sessions with your Doula where they’ll come to your house and offer practical advise, and go through your birth preferences with you so you’re all on the same page as well as post-natal sessions too.
Because of the new laws making things tricky if you want a private midwife, having a doula is probably going to become even more helpful to bridge the support gap NHS midwives simply can’t provide. I’m insanely lucky, and my hospital is very pro-home birth and have provided me with a 1-1 community midwife from day one. My midwife is pro hypno-birthing, keen for me to do whatever I want to stay calm and she was even Olivia’s midwife at her second birth! But I know not everyone’s hospital is the same, and, anecdotally I’ve noticed that outside of London things are a lot more tricky.
Anyway, if you decide to go down the Doula route, head to the official Doula website which is the official non-profit body for Doula’s in the UK.
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Also published on Medium.