intensely trivial

Doula’s first homebirth: Prenatal

I had the great privilege last week of attending my first homebirth as a doula. Although I always write a timeline of my clients’ births to share with them, I never plan on publishing their stories. Don’t worry; Rhiannon gave me her blessing in sharing their story with my readers, and none of the names in the story are their real names. And I’m not going to try to make it overly flowery; what I describe is almost as objective as I can be. It’s gonna be long, so I guess I’ll post it in installments. Try as I might, I’ve never been able to write a short birth story, even if the birth happens in two hours. So. . .

Let me tell you what happens when birth occurs undisturbed.

During Rhiannon’s pregnancy, like most other pregnant women in this town, she went to see an OB at the local women’s clinic. Rhiannon and James read some books about pregnancy and birth, and they noticed that the care they were receiving at the clinic was less personal and more full of medical interventions than what they had read was healthy. So they started researching their other options for birth places. Their search led them to a midwife named Arlene, who lives 1 1/2 hours away. When they knew they would be switching to midwifery care, they talked to their OB about it, and the doctor’s reply was “Well, I hope you don’t regret it.” Their interactions with Arlene did not disappoint them. Once a month, they drove to Arlene’s home for prenatal appointments. Due to Rhiannon’s high blood pressure, Arlene had her take calcium and magnesium supplements, monitor and record her blood pressure daily, and keep her stress levels down. Soon, Rhiannon’s blood pressure was down to normal, and Arlene told her she could stop checking her blood pressure so frequently. Rhiannon had a low appetite, so Arlene had her increase her protein intake by drinking protein shakes. With the help of the midwife, Rhiannon took responsibility for her own health throughout the pregnancy.
Rhiannon and James contacted me a few months ago. Because of the distance between Manhattan and Arlene’s town, Arlene had asked them to hire a doula to help with labor support. From the first night we met, we got along well. For one of their prenatal meetings with Arlene, Arlene drove to Manhattan to make sure she knew the route and ensure that Rhiannon and James’s home was set up for birth. I got to meet Arlene that day, and we talked about my role at this birth. Basically, I would do all the labor support I normally do at hospital births, but Arlene also hoped I could estimate by observing Rhiannon when she was 4-5 cm dilated (doing internal exams is not in my scope of practice), so Arlene would know when to head this way. (Judging that as a doula is enough for a whole series of blog posts, so I’ll save comments about that for another day.)
While Rhiannon was getting prenatal care at the OB clinic, she had been told her due date was Jan. 8. As most women do, she was getting a little impatient as that day drew closer. It would have been better for her to have a “due month” so as to avoid the discouragement that occurred when that due date came and went. There was no reason to worry, though; Arlene palpated her belly at every visit (and probably listened to the baby’s heartbeat, although I don’t know for sure; I never asked), and Rhiannon and the baby were always doing fine.

Stay tuned for the next installment, in which labor begins!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. * Shelley C. says:

    Don’t leave us hanging too long…it’s getting good!

    Posted 8 years, 4 months ago
  2. * Morgan says:

    We need to talk and relish in homebirth. I can’t wait to read more!

    Posted 8 years, 4 months ago
  3. * Melinda says:

    more! I need more! Like, Shelley said, don’t leave us hanging!

    Posted 8 years, 4 months ago
  4. * manhattandoula says:

    So, I was going to write another installment tonight, but folks, I got nothin’ left in me. Hang in there. I’ll write the next part soon!

    Posted 8 years, 4 months ago

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