Having my firstborn son wasnt dreamy. I had all of the pains from giving birth coupled with a case of post partum depression and one unbelievable tear. It was something I didn't expect. Before Graham, the word episiotomy was not in my vocabulary. I was healing from that when about a month later I started to spontaneously hemorrhage. It required several surgeries, but eventually, I started to feel better and convinced myself I could have another child.
Because of the complications I had with Graham, I felt the need to be super-prepared for the birth of my second child. Beyond having a well-stocked nursery and a maid on-call for the first few weeks after the planned birth, I also summoned the help of a doula to assist with post-partum care for my new baby and myself. A doula is a trained professional who provides physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and after birth. They are not midwives or doctors... but they are saints.
Although, I primarily was seeking care for the post partum period, my doula, Jacqueline, also met with me prior to delivery and was there for the birth as well. She talked with me about my wishes for childbirth in our prenatal meetings (have all of us survive, medicate as necessary), she helped me in the throes of labor, and then sat with my husband when things took a turn for the worse after I delivered our baby boy.
I left the hospital several days later physically and emotionally bereft. When my doula arrived to help on my first full day home from the hospital, I cried in her arms. After pulling myself together, she watched my baby while I slept and showered. In the following days and weeks to come, she helped me give my son his first bath, walked with me around the neighborhood, and sat with me while I aired my emotions about the birth. She was my friend, my therapist and my baby's caregiver. She pulled me out of a very dark spot, and I could never properly thank her.
The only thing that I knew to do was to write about her and her craft. I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that if you are expecting a baby that you should find a doula to help you with your birth and post partum care. There are doulas of all different birthing philosophies so it's important to do your research and find one that matches your needs. You may want someone to help you avoid medication during labor, someone to flag down the nearest nurse to drug you up, or someone to coach you on your options along the way.
I found Jacqueline on a local website, http://www.charlottedoulas.org/, and would encourage you to research the site as well. I wish all of you easy pregnancies and easier deliveries, but I'm of the philosophy that you hope for the best and plan for the worst. I hope this blog post will help you with the planning.