During my PAL I attempted countless times to explain to friends and family how challenging it was to trust that this pregnancy would go well. When people asked if I was excited, I often used terms like “hopefully”, “we’ll see what happens” and “if we get to bring this baby home.” It felt so lonely that those closest to me couldn’t understand the fear and anxiety I felt about the safe arrival of my baby.
Wishing I Had The Support of Someone Who Understood
It wasn’t until after my son was born that I began to notice I was more comfortable about how I felt during my PAL. I started sharing my experiences and discussing my anxiety with other mothers I met. Some of them shared similar stories with me, also filled with worry, doubt and loneliness. Many of them felt as though no one understood how hard it was to believe things would be different this time. After my son was born I realized how much I would have benefitted from the support of someone who had been through PAL! It would have been wonderful to have someone who understood my fears and provided me with support through it all. It was at this time that I decided to become that support for others, so I became a Doula.
For those who may not know, a Doula is someone who provides emotional, informational and physical support to women and their families during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. I wish so badly that I had hired a Doula during my own pregnancy and now I see how instrumental that added support can be both during pregnancy and birth.
I would have loved to have a friendly ear to listen and acknowledge how challenging my pregnancy was;
I would have loved to have someone validate that my feelings were normal for a PAL;
I would have loved to know that I had judgment-free support to help me feel less anxious, and;
I would have loved to have someone at my birth who understood how scary the delivery was following my loss.
Helping Make Birth a More Positive Experience.
I hadn’t realized how many emotions would be triggered during labour and delivery. I delivered my rainbow baby in the same hospital as my angel, only one room over. It hadn’t even occurred to me that all those memories would come rushing back. Walking into the hospital I felt so tense and anxious, and I struggled to communicate those feelings. As a Doula this is something I talk to my clients about before delivery. We go over all of their fears and concerns. I try to make them feel empowered so they can be as confident and comfortable as possible going into their birth. I am there for their entire active labour and do not leave their side until baby has arrived. I am there to make sure they feel supported and understood.
I am currently 18 weeks pregnant with my second rainbow and have found a Doula that I love, who has taken the time to really understand my history and experiences. Knowing that I have her support every step of the way has already made things monumentally easier this time around.
For all of the above reasons and many more, my unexpected piece of advice for Pregnancy After Loss is to hire a Doula. You won’t regret it :).