Why We Opted for A Home Birth with a Doula
I am an American living in the UK with my British husband. I moved to England and we were soon expecting our first child. This was all great and exciting news as we felt as ready to start a family as one can feel. However, the the excitement soon wore off when I came down with really bad morning sickness, landing me in the hospital 4 times to get an I.V… I was quickly diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). Those were a rough first 5 months of pregnancy and introduction to British life.
Amongst all these visits, I developed a real fear of hospitals. I had never been one to like hospitals, but my experiences there were so beyond awful that I was terrified to actually have a baby at our local hospital. Having done some research and spoken with many of my friends, my husband and I opted for a birth at home. The medical system in the UK is quite different from America and one of the plusses is that home births aren’t so unheard of here. It was an option I had always been interested in, so we made our decision.
Throughout my pregnancy there was no continuity of care. The original midwife I was assigned went on maternity leave soon after my first appointment. Each subsequent appointment was with a different midwife and I never knew who I was going to meet. When I got to around week 35 of pregnancy I had another new midwife assigned to me. I did not get on well with at all. I’ve never met someone so rude, condescending and unwilling to accept my wishes in my life. She really put me on edge at such a bad time.
I felt overwhelmed and vulnerable. Giving birth is a big deal! How can you go through such an intimate experience with someone that pushes all the wrong buttons and makes you feel insecure, dumb, and uncertain at every corner? I was impatient to meet my first born baby, but as each day and week grew closer I began to panic about all the unknowns. I felt I was receiving poor medical care (despite meeting some excellent midwives). On top of that, I felt so isolated with no support system as I was so new to the community and country.
I talked to a good friend of mine from America and she insisted I find a doula, and quick. Enter in the amazing Becki Scott! When I got into contact with her and met her, it was like someone putting all the power back into my hands. I knew I needed an advocate. In many areas of my life I can be firm and assertive, but when it comes to matters of health, for some reason it just triggers all my feelings of uncertainty. I knew it would only be that much harder to defend my wishes whilst in labour for the first time. She put all the concerns that my husband and I had at ease and gave us some really great feedback and tools on how to manoeuvre this medical system that was truly so foreign to me.
She also educated us on so many topics. Things that we thought we HAD to do to follow these medical “rules”. Where in reality, we are free people who can choose to have our baby how we want, when we want (i.e. whether we want induction or not), where we want, and who is and is not allowed to be there.
Maybe that sounds extreme, but birth is extreme! When you stop and think about all that is involved in this process of giving birth it is important to really decide on what our wishes are before being in the heat of the moment. I seriously needed people around me that I was totally comfortable with and could trust. Giving birth is the definition of being in a vulnerable state.
So, with just weeks left Becki was hired, we had our birth plan finalized with some of our important wishes and ideals recorded. The birth pool was also at our house ready to go for the big day.
Read part 2 of Veronica and Jamie's story here