Monday, February 04, 2008

Hello Again

A few weeks ago, Violet was reintroduced to one of the first people she ever met: our doula, Jennifer Schepper. (This shot of Violet and Jennifer getting reacquainted at the get together Jennifer hosted for all of her 2007 babies and families was one of the first I took with our new digital camera, a Canon 40D I love more than is probably healthy. Expect to see many more photos here as a result.)

In preparing for Violet's birth, we decided that the assistance of a birth doula was a resource we wanted to take advantage of. I'm told there are women who love being pregnant, but it's no secret I am not among them; I was ready to wrap up that particular part of the parenthood experience about five minutes after the second pink line showed up on the stick. I was actually looking forward to labor and birth, and it was on my mind early in the pregnancy. Which was fortunate, as good doulas in this area tend to book up as quickly as good daycares.

We found Jennifer through the recommendation of Kyndal May, a local childbirth educator and birth advocate I consulted often both before and after our Confident Birthing class. (A plug for Kyndal here - that class was absloutely invaluable to us, and Kyndal is a phenomenal teacher. I experienced none of the lecture-induced narcolepsy I usually suffer from during Kyndal's class.) We were comfortable with Jennifer from our first meeting, and she supported us throughout the birth process - from preparing for the kind of birth I hoped to have through the transition to a family of three those first few weeks after Violet's birth. And of course, labor and the birth itself.

Studies have shown that the presence of a doula at birth tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications, reduces the need for labor-inducing drugs and requests for pain medication and epidurals, and reduces the incidence of cesarean sections. Though Jennifer didn't join us for Violet's birth until we left for the hospital, when I was already in the transition stage of labor, her support played a big part in my labor and birth experience even before she arrived. The security of knowing that Jennifer would be available as soon as I needed her contributed to my confidence and level of comfort laboring at home with Eric as long as I did. I attribute much of my amazing birth experience to my body, and much to dumb luck, but Jennifer deserves a lot of credit, too.

The doula's primary role is to support the mother (and father) in childbirth, but studies have also confirmed the benefits of doulas to babies, particularly with respect to breastfeeding. The most wonderful thing Jennifer did for us was to help Violet and I, in those first awestruck minutes following her birth, to get Violet latched on and nursing. Our nursing relationship is so important to me, and six months later, we're still going strong.

That's right . . . six months. Violet is six months old today! Eric and I are as excited as she is about all the things she can do now, including sitting up on her own, giggling, and our favorite - giving kisses! Lots of them. Every time she pulls my face to hers and plants a big, open-mouthed wet kiss on my cheek, I get all glowy. I hope neither of us ever grows out of that.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Don't worry, you won't ever grow tired of your children's kisses!