Dave shares how his doula's knowledge and experience paved the way for a peaceful, unmedicated birth
A note from the Military Birth Resource Network: Birth comes in all shapes and sizes. We often hear the negative side of birth. By sharing this father's story, we hope to put a positive outlook on the experience when giving birth at military bases around the world.
Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
My name is Dave. I am a father of three and have been in the Marine Corps for fourteen years. In 2017 I was stationed in North Carolina and received PCS orders to Twenty Nine Palms, CA. My wife (eight months pregnant), our two daughters (12 and 1), and I made the cross-country road trip.
What were some of your biggest worries or concerns as a new father?
My biggest concern was not being present for the birth. My platoon had been traveling back and forth to Camp Pendleton for some training. I knew our third child would most likely be delivered faster than the other two. I was concerned that even hitting minimal traffic, that I would miss the birth. I was also concerned that the hospital staff would not allow Michelle the freedom to do what she needed during labor. Michelle had some negative experiences when delivering at the Naval Hospital in Camp Lejeune. Lastly, I was concerned there would be delivery complications like the last birth.
How or why did the conversation of having a doula come up?
All of our family lives on the East Coast and our support network shrunk significantly when we arrived in California. Since we were still trying to re-establish ourselves and make new friends, we felt like we were on our own until family could come visit. It is obviously hard to predict when the baby is ready to be delivered, and family on the East Coast needed time to travel. Michelle brought up the idea and it made perfect sense. Having a doula facilitated our needs and guaranteed that somebody would be there to help her during labor until I could get to the hospital.
How did the doula become an asset to your birth experience, and how were some of those concerns addressed?
The doula addressed all of my concerns and helped me just as much as she helped Michelle during the labor and delivery. Even when the doula went on a mini day trip, she advised Michelle that we could always reach her on the Satellite Phone. When we decided to take Michelle to the hospital, Jennifer (our doula) arrived promptly.
Jennifer contributed to the relaxing environment we sought. She has a comforting and calming demeanor which helped alleviate stress. She provided recommendations regarding positions, breathing, and taking walks down the hall to "speed up" the process. Jennifer even gave Michelle massages with scented oils (which she did better than I could and it gave me a break). Jennifer's experience and personal knowledge of the pains of labor helped Michelle endure the pains of childbirth without the aid of an epidural or pain medication.
The doula also had intricate knowledge and experience with the Naval Hospital and staff. She was able to provide us recommendations that we wouldn't have known to ask for, such as wireless monitoring. Jennifer also was able to translate medical terminology into layman's terms, explaining things in detail to us. This helped us make informed decisions.
Jennifer's presence was not overbearing because she was able to fade in and out of the shadows as needed. Jennifer offered advice and helped by observing and asserting herself at appropriate times. We felt very comfortable with her.
What is one word of advice you’d give to a new father? Advice for a family wanting to hire a doula?
Having a doula put all of my concerns at ease. I knew there would be somebody there with Michelle. As a father, I do not know the physical or emotional rollercoaster endured during labor and birth. The doula understands through experience and can help navigate the hospital, staff, and labor and delivery with a calm and stress-reducing personality.