I think i might have mentioned at some point that we are planning on using a doula during this birth. Doulas have been around for a long time but i think that probably in the last 5-10 years it's become much more common for women to use their services.
So what is a doula? Basically it's a woman that is there to support you through childbirth. She doesn't necessarily have a medical background but generally has lots of experiences with birth (both her own and attending others.) There's lots of impressive stats out there that extol the benefits of using a doula (shorter labor, reduced rate of cesearans and episiotomies, etc) and hopefully we'll be lucky enough to have the same benefits. The downside to using a doula is that there's a perception that doulas are either extreme hippies using crystals to help their clients channel pain or anti-medical establishment and very aggressive and disruptive to the doctors and nurses.
We wanted the benefits of a doula without having to necessarily hold hands and chant with our doula or piss my doctor off. Luckily we found Pam. She's a very calm, in-control person that isn't the least bit "hippy" or aggressive. She's had 5 births of her own and been a doula for 15 years. Rather than helping us type a 4 page single-spaced birth manifesto, she's going to meet with us to pick the 4 or 5 things that are really important to us about this birth-- and then help us to try and achieve them.
Being as we're planning for a natural childbirth, i think her greatest strength will be in pulling out all the tricks she has for coping and dealing with the pain of labor. She'll provide massage, suggest different labor positions, and help provide support during all phases of labor. She'll help me stay at home as long as i feel comfortable and will help us understand any medical choices that have to made in the hospital.
I'm extremely relieved to have found her. JT and i meet with her and the back-up doula this weekend to discuss the birth and get a better idea of how we'd like things to go.