After the birth of her first child, US-born Meredith realised just how different things could have been if she and her husband had had more support, both physically and emotionally. So when she was pregnant with her second, she made sure to find a doula. From the very first meeting, she felt listened to and respected, and truly empowered! And she’s never looked back.
Now a mum of five (!), Meredith looks back on her doula journey, and explains how Sophie and Julie from A doula in Belgium were to be the anchors she and her husband needed here in Belgium when she was pregnant with her fifth child.
“A doula provides unwavering support during a time, like that of the ocean, with constant ups and downs. The sea may be smooth sailing or a storm may be brewing. You cannot always know what lies ahead, but knowing you have strong, emotional and physical support by your side is the welcomed anchor during the time of change that a doula offers.
For our first pregnancy 12 years ago my husband and I took childbirth classes and were actively preparing for a natural birth. Once labor started, so much took us by surprise. We learned from my first birth and going into the birth of our second son in 2009, we knew we needed more support.
I had heard of a ‘doula’ but never met one before. In central Texas, where we were living at the time, doulas were not common.
I still remember our initial meeting. I immediately felt listened to and respected. I was able to share my worries and hopes, my past experience and dreams for the future. The doula gave me the space to talk that no one else (not my mother, sister, friends or doctor) had. She didn’t give me ideas, she set my ideas free. I was empowered.
Not only did she figuratively stand by my side during pregnancy but her active help during my labor made a challenging birth (sunny-side up presentation) physically more bearable. Her extra set of hands gave my husband relief so he could balance caring for our first son who was a toddler at the time and caring for me. They worked together off and on as my support system. Her reassuring voice as helpful to me, as to him.
Because we move so often, we have had to remake our birth team each time and in many locations. But with each subsequent pregnancy and birth we knew we wanted a doula by our side. We hired a doula for our third birth in western Texas and our fourth in Helsinki, Finland.
And here in Belgium we contacted the doulas, Sophie and Julie from So Cocoon, as soon as we confirmed the pregnancy.
I knew being new to the country that I would have a lot of questions about the health system and prenatal care. I felt connected by the fact that they are from Belgium but have lived (and birthed!) outside of Belgium.
They both know what it is like to be a little on the outside. As well as being very understanding of the challenge that not speaking the local language presents.
I felt immediately at ease during our initial meeting. Sophie and Julie came to my home, spent several hours speaking with me, hearing my stories and understanding my concerns.
I told them things about my past births I have only ever shared with my husband. Their ears were open and so were their hearts. I knew they would be my friends as I journeyed through this pregnancy far away from my home country, family and friends.
They would be that anchor I would rely on.”
Whether you’re pregnant with your first baby, fifth baby, or any baby in between, having the extra emotional, psychological and physical support of a doula can make a HUGE difference!
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Sophie and Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org.