A Day in the Life of a Doula

smiling woman in shallow focus photography

1:00am – Doula’s cell phone rings. Client (laboring mother) is calling to say her contractions are 5 minutes apart. Is it time to go to the hospital? Doula asks several more questions about the intensity of contractions, other symptoms and assesses how well mother is coping. Mother says she is resting easily between contractions and does not want to go in quite yet. A decision is made by parents to wait a few more hours and check back again.

3:00am – Laboring mother calls back; contractions are closer and stronger. She is now getting some back pain. They live about 30 minutes from the hospital. Doulas suggests the mother call her provider and discuss the possibility of going to the hospital.

3:30am – Client calls back and tells doula they are heading out the door. Doula hops in the shower, packs her bags and birth ball in the car, grabs a protein bar for the road and heads to the hospital.

4:30am – Doula meets clients on the labor and delivery floor. Mom is checked and found to be 2-3 cm dilated. The doctor suggests the mother walk a bit around the floor and be re-checked in a hour before being admitted.

5:00am – Doula accompanies mother and father as they walk, providing encouragement, doing light massage during contractions and answering questions. Doula offers mother clear fluids to drink after every few contractions.

5:30am – Mother is re-checked by the nurse in triage and found to be 4cm. Mother and father are admitted to the birthing suite. Doula reminds mother to empty her bladder.

6:00am – Labor nurse takes blood, monitors the fetal heart rate and gets information from mother to complete admission. Doula provides encouragement during contractions and reminds mother to relax.

6:30am – Mother becomes very uncomfortable in the bed so once the nurse is finished, doula suggests the mother sit on the birth ball. She adds a warmed rice sock to mother’s back as the mother faces her partner and holds on to his knees for support. Doulas reminds mother to drink and empty her bladder regularly.

7:00am – Mother is placed back on the fetal monitor. Doula provides encouragement, massage and suggests positions that are more comfortable while mother is in the bed.

7:30am – Mother is anxious to get out of bed, so doula suggests the shower for relief. Father uses shower head to provide relief on the mother’s back during contractions. Doula stands nearby providing encouragement and reminding mother to drink. Nurse shift changes and new nurse is assigned.

8:00am – Doctor shift changes and new doctor comes in to examine mother. Mother has dilated to 6cm. Mother decides she wants to continue to try more comfort measures before resorting to pain medication.

9:00am – Baby is monitored again. Doula suggests either more walking or some “slow dancing” since mother is getting uncomfortable sitting. Mother opts to walk.

9:30am – Mother is getting tired. Contractions are very close and very intense. Doula asks if mother wants to try the shower again. Mother agrees and find relief.

10:00am – Nurse asks to put mother back on the monitor. Mother says she is not sure she can lay down in the bed since now there is too much pressure and it hurts to lay down. Doula asks the nurse if it’s possible to monitor the mother while she is seated on the ball or standing next to the monitor display. The nurse agrees.

10:30am – Mother feels a great deal of pressure and contractions are extremely intense. The nurse examines her and says she is 8-9 cm dilated. Doula suggests a hands and knees position over the top of the bed while waiting for pushing to begin. Partner massages mother’s back during contractions.

11:30am – Mother gradually begins to feel the urge to push. Nurse examines her and finds she is fully dilated. Nurse tells the mother it is okay to start pushing. Doula assists mother with pushing techniques and positioning for pushing. Nurse places the monitors on the mother for continuous monitoring during pushing.

12:30pm – Doctor comes in to check progress. Finds the baby’s head is low but the back of the baby’s head is slightly to the mother’s right side. He requests that the nurse let him know when the baby’s head is visible.

1:00pm – Doula suggests a left side-lying position for pushing to rotate the baby’s head. Partner places warm sock on mother’s back during pushes to relieve discomfort. Doula and partner take turns offering clear fluids and ice chips to mother and wiping her forehead with cool cloths.

2:00pm – Mother says that the pressure is very intense and she is feeling burning. The nurse announces that she can see the baby’s head and pages the doctor. Doula encourages the mother to breathe through contractions and to slow pushing to ease the baby out.

2:20pm – Doctor comes in and receives baby. A baby girl is born! Father cuts the cord. Congratulations to a happy mother and father! Placenta is delivered easily with one small push.

3:00pm – Doula stays by the mother’s side, taking photos and offering fluid to the mother while the baby is being examined by the nurse. Doulas assists the mother with first breastfeeding. Baby girl latches successfully!

4:00pm – Everyone is settling in. Doula gives mother a light snack. More photos are taken of the mother and father with the birth team. Doula gathers up her belongings, gives the new parents a big hug and heads out to her car, smiling all the way home.

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