It is not a comfortable spot to be, but it is recognized by birth workers that sometimes families need a release of tension and anger. Sometime it comes out as blame. And sometimes that blame is laid upon the doula.
Birth is unpredictable. A "perfect" pregnancy can turn into a high risk delivery extremely fast. A well-progressing labor can turn into an emergency cesarean delivery. Families are left with little opportunity to choose any option other than to follow their care provider's lead.
People know that they are not medical experts and they should take their care providers advice. But doing so doesn't mean feelings of disappointment, confusion, and helplessness are easy to manage or understand.
Families may be left asking:
Why did this happen?
Why couldn't I stop it?
What went wrong?
And under it all, "WHY DIDN'T I GET TO CHOOSE?!"
The loss of participation is extremely unnerving. The handing over of one's body to be surgically cared for is not the image of child birth that makes many women get warm fuzzy feelings. The sudden care by professionals is one of the many reasons women are happy to have birth in hospitals, but the hope is that those services will never be used.
In instances an immediate medical response is necessary, families search for answers. They look for reasons why. They want a cause for the effect.
And sadly, it is not such an easy thing to find for some.
With as much as we know about birth and bodies, there is still no way to know what path a woman's labor will take.
"I knew that it was time for the babies to come. I went in for the cesarean, but then, they couldn't get the spinal placed right. I heard them talking normally, sometimes directly to me, but then they got quite and were whispering to each other. I couldn't see anything. Then the baby was born but they said he had to go straight to the NICU. Then I was horrible nauseous, and I said I didn't feel right. I wake up and was in a different room, and it seemed like four people had their hands inside my body. Then I was told I might need an emergency hysterectomy. They got it under control, but I needed blood transfusions and no one could tell me what was going on."
Hiring a labor doula does not guarantee an outcome. Having a doula scheduled for postpartum care does not guarantee any result. BUT, hiring a doula for your labor or recovery means you won't be alone. And by sheer proximity, sometimes the doula is the emotional dump for the mother, partner, or the whole family.
And that is ok.
I can be that person for you.
You can unload anything on to me.
I am your doula.
If your mother needs to send me angry text messages; I can read them, call her back, and talk her through what is going on.
If your partner is freaking out and wants someone to blame; I can be blamed, I can be yelled at, I can take it.
If you are angry and are confronted with feelings you don't know what to do with, you can yell and scream, and cry, and be angry with me if you need to.
I can take it. I am your doula.
Doulas are present and helpful for birth and postpartum, and sometimes those events aren't completely happy and joyous. It isn't talked about. But it is real.
Doulas are there for you thorough any situation. Your goals become our goals for labor and recovery, and when goals aren't met, we know that those feeling are in direct disagreement with your vision of success.
But even when your original version of a successful situation is shattered, your doula will be there to help you pick up the pieces, and be with you, still without judgement, because when there is no known reason why unfortunate events happen, you should hear that IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
It is not your fault.
You are not broken.
It is not your fault.
So know that a doula is not just for unmedicated birth. Know that a doula is not just for position changes and encouragement through labor. Know that a doula is there to help with the hard feelings just as much as the joyful feelings.
I can help carry the load you bear. I hope you won't need to use this part of my care, but please know that you can.
Authored by A Swift Doula