If you have always been independently minded, how do you establish a strong team? Typically, I have been the type to know that I could get things accomplished independently and not have to rely too much on others. Oh, how having my first child changed that!
When I knew I was expecting my first child, my first order of business was between choosing a Mid-Wife or Physician. This was a nerve racking decision, especially during our current environment where there are restrictions in hospitals. What if you are stuck between both options? There is a third option to consider that you may not be aware of. If you decide to choose the traditional route, you can always hire a Doula. A Doula is an individual who is employed to provide guidance and support to a pregnant woman during labor. As I discovered, a Doula can add tremendous value during your birth journey.
I was fortunate enough to find an OB/GYN and Doula who excelled in their respective industries. They both listened and understood what my husband and I wanted regarding our birth plan while honoring our decisions throughout the process. Dr. Tanner, my OB/GYN and an educator and top physician in Louisiana, was aligned with my goals throughout my pregnancy. After researching and talking to my friend Heather Gonzales who was working on her Doula certification, she mentioned the advantages of hiring a Doula and that she would complete her certification during my pregnancy. It was exciting to have a strong team: my husband, OB/GYN, and Doula were all excited and on board.
Once Dr. Tanner and Heather signed up for my journey, it was important for them to meet each other. In addition to finding your team, the introduction may be the most important step of the process. I would say that this is true because it is an opportunity to figure out how they can work together even if they may have two different schools of thought. This may not always work, and if it does not, it may be in your best interest re-vamp your plan. It is important that you are not stressed or unsure about your team working together.
Embrace Your Team
As time progressed, I realized that I needed to accept the help and advice from others while trusting myself and intuition. I did not realize that my independence would pose as a challenge when communicating with my team. I am a Super Researcher, uncertain if this is even a title, but I am the type that will dive deep and go into a rabbit hole of research. This is useful when it comes to a lot of things. At times, however, it can get in the way of team building and collaborative thought.
After several meetings that led up to my birth, both Dr. Tanner and Heather made sure that we all researched the best options and arrived at decisions that we were all comfortable with. Their synergy was amazing. Even when my birth went two weeks past my delivery date, they made sure that we were all meeting and prepared to understand the different options and possibilities. It took all of us working together along with transparent communication to understand the goal. In our case, it was a happy mom and healthy baby, and I am excited to share that goal was very much achieved.
My birth was long and challenging and it made me realize the strength that we have as mothers, as well as the power of support. I cannot imagine my birth experience without any one of the members of my team. While almost all mothers select a doctor, I know that selecting a Doula is less common. Below are three takeaways from my doula, Heather, that not only may help you with your birth process but also might help give you insight into the kind of support, inspiration, and perspective a doula can provide.
1. Knowledge & Understanding
Research, critical thinking and analysis of information from your provider, your doula, yourself and your partner or family. Being in tune with the body is about intrinsic awareness as well as a real understanding of the natural biological process. Understanding the natural biological process is what enables us to identify where we are and what stage of progression we are reaching via intrinsic awareness. The ability to connect what we feel to what we know is a catalyst for confidence.
2. Confidence & Self-Advocacy
When you are firmly grounded in confidence that can not be shaken, you are ready to self-advocate. Self-advocacy is the root of empowerment and birth is intended to be empowering and transformative. No matter the outcome, birth is always transformative because you are never the same once you have created and birthed life into this world. However, in order to claim your right to an empowering birth you and your support system must be ready and willing to self-advocate.
I recently read a very powerful quote, it said the following, “Last week, I found myself saying I was ‘stressed.’ This week, I said I am ‘under divine pressure because I’m birthing something great.” The author is quoted as “Narrative Shift”. What I took from this is birthing at its core is embracing and trusting the divine pressure you are moving through to birth. Birthing, by nature, is sacred and empowering.
3. Question Everything
Never take anything as the gospel truth and never be afraid to ask questions, request literature or a second and third opinions. Realize that the shift to hospital births started in the 20th century when the goal was to incorporate anesthesia for a pain-free birth. However, in the first third to half of the century, it was not always safer childbirth. Couple that with the continued fight for systematic racial justice and it’s not hard to understand why we are now in the 21st century and black mothers nationwide remain up to four times more likely to die during childbirth in a hospital setting.
Always ask questions and be very clear that ultimately you have the right to refuse anything that you don’t feel good about.
If you are interested in connecting with Heather Gonzalez, you may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
It is important to establish a great competent team during your pre-natal, birthing and post-natal process, you must also trust that the team you have chosen will be there to advocate and consider your goals. For me, I wanted to do everything myself, and it was a lot to manage. Once I decided to become a team player, life got easier. I had more time to focus on other things that were important to me. As an advanced maternal age mom, team is especially important because during all your visits–you may have questions and your team may also have questions that you did not think of. I would say one of the most beneficial points of having a great team was during my birthing process. You can have a plan and everything down to a science. However, nature will always win, and without my team’s support and positive energy my birth would have been an entirely different experience. I encourage all parents if possible, to establish a strong team as soon as possible. Your synergized team will add so much value to you and your process.