Allison attended Jolie’s birth as my (Grace’s) doula. She was a very important part of my labor and delivery, and Viktor and I would have been lost without her. If you are interested in having a natural birth I suggest you find a doula in your area. Here is a mini “interview” with Allison:
Why did you become a doula?
I have always loved the birthing process. I just think it is such a miracle. I love the chance to support couples or women while they are going through this process, especially if they are trying to do it naturally or if they have no other support system. I felt by becoming a doula, it was the best way to be able to support in the birthing process. I also feel that so many women are not educated about their choices when it comes to childbirth. Sometimes I feel like women are forced into making decisions in the hospital that they have no time to research, or they feel pressure to go with a choice that they may not have wanted for themselves or for their baby.
How many births have you attended?
I have attended at least 10, as either a doula or a nursing student, not including my own. As a doula, I have supported 6 labors.
What was the most exciting birth you attended? Scariest?
I believe all births are exciting. The miracle of birth is exciting, whether it is a c-section or a vaginal birth. The scariest birth I have attended was one where the baby got “stuck,” also known as shoulder dystocia. I know it has got to be scary for the mom to not know what is going on, and things have to happen so quickly that it is hard to explain what is going on until afterwards. I tried to just comfort the mom the best while everything was going on.
What are some tips for husbands to help their wives through natural labor?
The best thing for the husband to do is just to be supportive, both emotionally and physically. The partner can never take anything personally and needs to know that the woman may go through several cycles of emotions and mood swings. The partner should tell the woman that she is strong and be encouraging that she can do it. Also give massages where the woman says she needs pressure or a massage. If there is a doula present, let the doula not only support the woman, but support the partner by being the “coordinator” of different positions, or even just letting the couple have some time alone if needed. The doula should always be in the background, not the foreground, giving suggestions when wanted and desired, but never becoming the “partner.”
What is your favorite part about being a doula and helping a mom through labor and delivery?
My favorite part is when the woman realizes just how amazing and strong she really is. Even if things don’t go as planned, the woman usually gets an overwhelming sense of accomplishment when done that is so beautiful. One of my favorite parts as well is educating the couple beforehand of the choices that come with the whole birthing process and helping the couple come up with their birth plan. Of course, the birth, itself, makes me cry every time!
What advice do you have for women thinking about unmedicated natural birth?
Educate, Educate, Educate. Find out what your choices are at the place you are going to give birth. Realize you do have rights and you have choices. Find a doctor or midwife who is going to support your decisions. Think about having a doula. Realize that sometimes things don’t go as planned, and be willing to be flexible if it is necessary. Don’t be hard on yourself if you are unable to have an unmedicated birth. Remember, the desired outcome is always a healthy baby.