3 C's to Surviving Trauma During Pregnancy
There were three specific requests made within the first hour of being checked into the hospital room. Mom did not want any students attending to her, she wanted to be told everything that was going on and she wanted to delay cord clamping. Her water had broken and they were beyond excited to welcome their first child into the world.
Fast forward a couple hours and dad went to get some coffee in the cafeteria. Moments after he leaves, a gang of students come into the room along with the anesthesiologist to provide mom with her first ever epidural in life.
"Can we wait for my husband to get back," she asked?
"Unfortunately no because we have a tight schedule and other rooms to get to this evening," said the nurse.
"Can we have the students leave?" asked mom.
"This is a great learning opportunity for them and we’ll guide them ever step of the way," the nurse responded.
A scared, frustrated and silenced mom took deep breaths as the scene unfolded of her being given the epidural by a student in front of an audience. The last thing she remembered hearing was the voice of the student with the needle say they weren’t sure they put “it” (the epidural needle) in the right location before she passed out.
Unfortunately, this is not a fictional scene from a movie but a true depiction of a birth experience that a 32-year-old African American mom had in 2017. This birth took place in the progressive city of Washington, D.C., and fortunately ended with a healthy baby boy after an emergency cesarean.
Needless to say, mom and dad (who was never let back into the hospital room during the entire epidural procedure or told anything as his wife was rushed down the hospital hallway to have the emergency cesarean) were traumatized by their first birth experience.
Fast forward two years later and they found out that they are expecting their second child. The first thing they did was find a doula.
After months of preparation and setting intentions, their second birth was textbook “perfect." What was different this second time around? They had a doula who provided the three C’s to help shape their experience from trauma to a testament of the power of a second chance.
African American women have horrific birth statistics and many have birth experiences that are thwarted with racism, discrimination and evidenced by health disparities in the United States.
A culturally sensitive and astute doula has the power to help guide and transform the birth experience into a better one through being a confidant, an avid communicator, and the best companion for the mom before, during and after pregnancy. As a confidant, the doula can provide a safe space to hear the fears, desires and intentions of the mom; armed with this knowledge she can help advise during the creation of the birth plan and help with setting new intentions for the birth. As an avid communicator before, during and after the delivery, the doula can help with ensuring there is an understanding and agreement of everything that happens within the mom’s environment. As a companion of the mom, the doula intentionally encourages, motivates and supports the mom through the motherhood experience of delivery. The role of the doula and the potential impact on the life of the mother and her family is monumental.
If every mother would be so fortunate to have a doula, then every mother would have a confidant, avid communicator and personal companion in her corner. It takes a village to raise a child and the village is stronger with a doula by the mother’s side.
By Bianca Marie