What if I poop?

What if I poop during labour?

A question that every birth doula has heard. Numerous times. Usually asked in the vicinity of “should I shave?”, but we’ll save the latter for another day.

You’ve all heard that pooping during labour is TOTALLY normal.

True? Yes.

Comforting? Heck no!

I know you’re not worried about whether its normal or not, you’re worried about a team of people seeing you “do your business”

Let’s calm you all down, and give you the scoop on the poop.

Close your eyes and imagine…

Wait! Don’t do that! You won’t be able to keeping reading….

Imagine (in your mind’s eye with your eyes still open), a peaceful birth room, dimmed lighting and serene music playing. The scent of lavender fills the air.

Amazing right?

You’ve been riding the wave of every contraction and you feel like it’s time to push.

Suddenly your anxiety hits. Your heart lurches into your mouth. Your butt feels both wide open and totally stopped up.

You think you need to go to the loo.

But you don’t want a toilet baby!

Argh!

What to do?

Oh no! It’s too late, you pooped!

Ground, please just swallow me whole.

But wait, it still smells like lavender and rainbows! You scan the room, no one has flinched. Maybe you didn’t poop.

But you did…

And no one cares

You see your birth team have seen (and smelt – hence the lavender) it all before. It’s no biggie to your doctor, your midwife, your nurses or your doula.

Poop on the bed? We’ll roll up the linen saver and change it without you even noticing.

Poop on the birth ball? We’ll don a pair of gloves and clean it up.

Poop in the tub? We’ll scoop it out.

Why though?

Because. It’s. Not. A. Big. Deal.

And actually it’s an important part of giving birth. Poop is a magical meadow  of beneficial biological bacteria! The kind of bacteria that you want your newborn to be coated in so that they will be healthy and strong.

Sounds gross though, that your baby might land in your poop. You’re about to deal with a whole lot of poop. Newborns can poop like it’s nobody’s business. And they’re going to poop on you at some stage, I guarantee it. So why not get the first shot in?

You will find yourself talking about poop a lot in the future, but soon the actual act of pooping will be  become a non-event  for you too(until your little does it on the toilet the first time, then you crack open the champagne- for the adults Carol, relax, I’m not advocating giving toddlers champagne. Gahd.)

I for one am a big fan of the pushing poop. For one, it means your body is pushing the way it should. For two, once the poop is out, there’s more space for the baby to come out. The more space there is, the better!

So next time you are worried about pooping in labour, think of the benefits, and know that your doula is your pooping cheerleader. And, when it happens, she will also be your private pooper scooper.

No. Big. Deal

Why you should pay your doula

Doulas are some of THE most passionate people you will ever meet. The trouble is that they are also some of the kindest people you will ever meet.

Trouble? What do you mean trouble? Being kind is a good thing!

Kindness is an amazing quality to have. Unless your kindness comes with major self-sacrifice. Too many times people believe that they should get the services of a doula for free.And too often doulas say yes because they get to live out their passion and they want to give give give.

Let me tell you why asking for Free doula services is a sh*tty thing to ask another woman to do.

For the sake of keeping it simple, let’s look at this argument from a Birth Doula Point of View. And let’s start with the numbers.

First of all, there are NUMEROUS studies that show the enormous benefits of having a doula during your labour. For one, if you have a doula at your birth you are 60% less likely to request an epidural, which means you are probably not going to have to pay an anesthetist, in South Africa, that means you will save around R5000. That’s more than what the average South African doula charges for an entire prenatal, birth and postnatal package!

Next, having a doula present shortens labour by 25%. 25%!!!!

So for example, without a doula your labour would be 20 hours, but with a doula, it would be 15hours. You would have 5 extra hours to snuggle your newborn, 5 hours less of intense physical sensations. For every hour you would have been in labour you would be saving 15 minutes if you had a doula with you. When she’s saving you time, your doula is also saving you money.

But in case you’re still not sure that it is worth investing in a doula. Let me ask you this, do you not value yourself and the journey of bringing your child into the world enough to pay for the care that you deserve? Of course you do, that’s why you stay up late at night worrying about the minutia of what life is going to be like once your little squish is born. You should know that your doula stays up late at night too, worrying about her own family, and who will take care of them when you call her excitedly telling her that your contractions have started.

That’s not my problem, if she says she’ll be at my birth then she needs to plan for that.

Calm down. She will be there, because that’s what doulas do. But you need to realise that your doula will have to pay someone for their time to watch her children while she misses those hours of their lives to help you bring your child into the world. We love what we do, but we should be compensated (just like any other professional) for giving up time with our families, for having to pay others to watch our kids, and for offering a beneficial service. Our kids miss us you know, just as yours will miss you when you go back to work. Can you imagine if they found out that we had given up time with them to go and spend time working for free? I’d prefer it if my kids saw nothing but love for them in my actions… so if I have to choose between spending time with my kids showing them how much I love them and make no money doing it, or spending time doing intense physical work while they’re looked after by someone else and make no money doing it…. I’m going to choose the former, and I’m 100% certain you would too.

Besides valuing yourself, and understanding the value that a doula will bring to your birth experience, and that doulas have families /lives too, you should also value other women enough to pay them for their expertise (their training wasn’t free). In a world where men STILL earn more than women for doing the same job, women should at the very least pay other women what they are worth. We all need to do our part to get women on the same level as men, and you can start by paying for your doula.

But not everyone can afford it.

Yes. Not everyone can afford to pay for doula support. And yes, they still deserve support. But let me tell you, I know that each and every woman on this planet has something of value to give, but she shouldn’t have to lose to share it with the world. And if she is a trained and/or experienced professional (which doulas are) then you should pay her for her services. If you find a doula that you can’t afford, she’s not the right doula for you. I see the value in every woman.  I KNOW that she has something to contribute to others.. So, ask around, you might find a doula willing to barter with you for a skill that you have that could help her in some way, but don’t offer her anything less than the equivalent of what she is worth. And don’t you dare under value yourself either. We can’t empower each other in this patriarchal world if we under value each other or ourselves.

So for crying out loud, don’t put any woman in the terrible position of having to either a) say no to doing their passion because you don’t want to pay them, or b) to say yes and having them sacrifice themselves for your benefit.

Don’t be that guy.

Don’t be sh*t.

Be lekker.

What is a doula?

The most common definition you will find of what a doula is, is “a physical and emotional support for a mother (and her partner) before, during and after childbirth.”

Bla bla  bla, boring.

A doula is so much more than that.  Lets start by noting that it has become common place(and greatly contested)  to use the term ‘doula’ outside of child birth. Many birth doulas say moving the term away from birth, dilutes the meaning and hardwork. To them I say Pthhhl. That’s like saying you’re only a waiter if you work at French restaurants. French foodies are not the only ones who need waiters to bring them delicious goods from the kitchen, just like families going through childbirth are not the only ones who need support. I am quite happy to share the term with Postpartum, Bereavement, Adoption, End-of-Life and Fertility doulas. The setting is different, but the work is the same.

A doula brings calm and a sense of safety when you are at your most vulnerable, but she is the support you need to realise you are actually at your most powerful.

She is there to quietly hold your hand, or throw motivational quotes at you. She is there to keep you calm, but awaken your spirit.

Your doula is a familiar face in the chaos

She is an objective touch point

She is knowledge

She is the handle you use to hoist yourself onto the top step

She will Nourish, Nurture, Support, Encourage and Empower you.

No matter at what stage of life you need her, your doula is there to serve you.

She is a guide and a light. As Randy Patterson of ProDoula says, “a doula instills strength and reduces fear”, and couldn’t we all use a bit of that when life’s big milestones cross our path.

The Plan

Today a good friend called me a visionary. Big word that. Visionary. But what good is a visionary without action?

You see my vision is to shake up the doula world in South Africa. To shift the status quo…a little. Doulas by their nature are kind-hearted, and in South Africa  too many are afraid to charge what they are worth. They end up doing their heartwork for free. Which is all fine and well until they can’t pay for their fuel, child care, or even put food on their table(read here why you should pay for your doula). Many of the Doulas in South Africa want to do their heart-work, but the idea of starting and running a business is much too daunting, so they either continue their day jobs and volunteer when they can, or we lose their great doula-ness forever. And that, my friends, is a great tragedy!

While it is slowly becoming a profession that people make use of, too many people in South Africa  still don’t even know what a doula is. My own friends had to ask me how to pronounce it.

Doo-lah …in case you’re one of them.

Even though you can now pronounce it, you stillmight not know what a doula is, and you won’t know what they do, or how beneficial they are to you. And you sure as heck won’t be willing to pay for something that you don’t know anything about.

I have a plan to change all of it though.

For the doulas.

For the people who need us.

I have a plan to make everyone see the value in what doulas in South Africa offer.

I have a plan to get all the great doulas doing their heartwork without the hardwork.

And when these two plans meet, our heartworking, hardworking doulas will be able to support so many more families through life’s big transitions, and at the same time their passion will become a profession.

Love and Light

Steph

If you’re still wondering what the frik a doula is… check out this blog post I wrote about it