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How to witness a birth
How I did it: A very close friend of mine was pregnant for the second time. Her first birth had ended up a c-section for breech presentation. When she got pregnant again, she was just going to automatically have another section. Now here is some back story, my first birth was an unplanned section after a not so great induction. Second birth was intended to be a VBAC. I did a huge amount of research between pregnancy one and two. Jake was two weeks late when I agreed to a second section. I was heartbroken. So when I heard that my friend was willingly having another major surgery by CHOICE i was alarmed. I asked why she was making that choice. She said that she and husband felt that the risk of vbac was to great. I asked if i could bring her some studies and statistics that i had gathered in my quest. When they saw the facts for what they were, they changed their minds. Long story, short, i was their doula (with no official training) and was with them for most of their labor, birth and for several hours after birth. a most AMAZING experience.
Lessons & tips: If you are going in to observe a birth, pay attention to the mom.
if you are going to help with a birth, do some research. talk to the mom, see what she thinks she might need, or what she knows she won't want. be prepared for all of this to change. be flexable. and patient. and encouraging. and don't wear perfume.
the birth partner (a book with great information, especially if you are doulaing with no experience)