In honor of the 2022 theme for Black History Month, we are celebrating and shining a light on health and wellness in the Black community. There's so much to unpack there that we could literally continue this discussion everyday for the rest of the year and beyond. It's complicated but I'm grateful for those who are doing the deep work each and every day to improve Black maternal health.
This blog post shares a bit about both of my birth experiences and why I made the decision to hire a doula the second time around. Enjoy reading!
2014: 1st Birth
Back in 2014 when I gave birth to my daughter Nia, my birth experience was nothing like I'd imagined. As a first-time mom, I felt well-prepared, maybe over-prepared even. The nursery was complete, baby clothes washed, post-partum meals prepped, car seat inspected - we were ready to bring our baby home! I had a healthy pregnancy with no issues or concerns.
Fast forward to the morning of the big day, I was in inactive labor for several hours at home. After dinner that night, I felt like it was finally time to head to the hospital. After arriving there and being monitored for some time, I was told that the baby's heart rate was dropping too low during contractions. After several hours, I hadn't dilated much at all. The medical staff felt that it was too much stress on the baby and we made the decision to move forward with a c-section. I had so many emotions. I felt scared, helpless and disappointed. All I wanted was what was best for my baby and I. Everything I'd envisioned during my birth experience went out the window and I was okay with that. I delivered a beautiful baby girl named Nia and I was happy to see her face. In the back of my mind though, I always wondered how things may have been different if I'd had a doula with me that day. From that point, I vowed that if we decided to have more children, I would definitely have a doula by my side. My husband and the nurses at Atrium Health CMC Main were amazing but I needed additional support from a trained doula. IYKYK
Nia is now 7 years old and has a great sense of humor. She's a momma's girl and a fabulous big sister who loves to bake and help in the kitchen.
2017: 2nd Birth
It's January 2017 and I'm pregnant again. After the first trimester, the first thing on my list was to find a Black doula. I did my research and met with three talented doulas in the Charlotte area. Kira Kimble became my doula and we started our journey together. We developed my birth plan, set expectations and stayed in touch throughout pregnancy, checking in after each prenatal appointment and a home visit before giving birth. Thankfully, I had another healthy pregnancy. This time, the nursery was half done and we didn't prep any meals but life was still good - just different with a 3 year old in tow!
Fast forward to the big day and my water broke. I didn't expect that because it doesn't always happen and I didn't experience that with my first pregnancy. We stuck around home for a few hours before heading to the hospital. Since my water broke, I could hear the proverbial clock ticking. My doula arrived shortly after we did and I had not dilated much. Contractions were mild so I was just hanging out, bouncing on an exercise ball while drinking broth. Kira gave me the space I needed to just relax. She left for a little while and came back later once I had dilated more. This is when the magic began. At one point I noticed the nurses standing on the sideline letting Kira do her thing. The midwife and nurses were very supportive and it was obvious that they respected the work she was doing.
Going into this birth, I did not want an epidural or any medical interventions. The contractions started coming in hot and heavy. Kira had me rotating from doing figure 8's to getting on hands/knees during labor. It was exactly what I wanted during labor - to keep moving and not be confined to the bed. But man, when those contractions became more intense, I started to rethink the natural birth I'd hoped for. Kira didn't let me give in easily though. She encouraged me to stay strong and most importantly, she was right there by my side to help me through each contraction.
I gave birth to Levi with a successful VBAC and no epidural. I was so proud and it was such a beautiful experience! Levi is now 4 years old and such a smart, loving and caring kid.
Hire a Doula
My husband and I are not planning to have more kids. Perhaps you are or you know someone who is. Share this blog post with them and do your research on the value and importance of doulas. Doulas are trained professionals who guide and support pregnant individuals and couples through pregnancy, childbirth and beyond. Research shows doulas improve birth outcomes with a 50% reduction in c-sections, 25% shorter labors, and 60% reduction in epidural requests.
To all the doulas and birth workers out there, the amazing work that you do is so valuable, memorable and necessary.
Check out these Charlotte-area doulas:
The Geechie Doula
Mine-R-T Doula Company
Call or Text (704) 661-2278
My Darling Doula
If you recommend any doulas in your local area, list them in the comments!