I just absolutely loved our doula! We had a home birth (which I'll talk about in another post) and couldn't have done it without Barb Belcore-Walkden. I knew from day one when we were still planning a hospital birth that I wanted a doula. I needed all the support we could muster and knew that it would be helpful for Nick too, being a first-time dad.
I interviewed a handful of doulas and went with Barb since Nick and I both loved her energy. She is caring and knowledgeable and positive and calming -- we wanted her to be a part of our birth team. When we decided on a home birth, Barb was so excited and was invaluable as a resource.
There's not a lot I remember about my labor (it was a quick, intense six hours), but I do remember the minute Barb walked in. I can still hear her say, "You're in labor!" I was bending over on a birth ball and she walked over and immediately put her hands on my back. You know when you're a kid and you're sick or hurt and your mom comforts you? That's what it felt like. Barb knew just what to do and what to say to both Nick and me.
The other thing that sticks out in my mind most is what Barb said when I was pushing. It's what I call the theme of my labor. I was lying on our futon on my side, holding on to Barb's hands, and squeezing with each push. At one point I stopped pushing and whimpered, "It hurts." I was a bit whiny. To which Barb replied, "Don't be afraid of the pain. The pain is what gets the baby out." Holy cow, that helped! I squeezed the daylights out of her hands, pushed through the pain, and out popped a baby. Wheeeeeeeee! Then she made us breakfast, cleaned up the house, and held my hand through the few stitches that I needed.
The day after I had Jo, Barb went on vacation so we relied heavily on her back-up, Jacque, for support through our breastfeeding problems and other post-partum issues. Barb & Jacque are seriously the wonder-duo. Nick and I can't imagine going through our labor, delivery, and post-partum period without these two women.
If you are having a baby, hire a doula! Whether you are having a home birth (especially if you are having a home birth) or a hospital birth or a birthing center birth, hire a doula! If you are a first-time mama you should most definitely hire a doula! Did I mention you should hire a doula?
You can find a bunch of handy doula info at the DONA International site.