If I told you I became a doula because of poop, most people would think that was a weird reason to choose a career (unless of course you are a colonic hydrotherapist). I have to be clear, it is not the ONLY reason, but it was a significant part of the reason.
Before I get into the poop explanation, I will clarify what the heck a doula is. In a nutshell, a doula is a woman who supports pregnancy, labour and delivery. They also do pre- and post-natal care and education with the mother-to-be or couple. A lot of the time, they are a really supportive voice on the other end of the phone as they are on call for their clients 24/7 (oh yes, I get many 4 am phone calls). Pregnancy, labour and birth can be a wild ride filled with unknowns, scary stories and care providers with potentially not enough time to answer all your questions. Your birth doula is there to answer these questions, support your choices (whatever they are!) and provide peace of mind, so that you can enjoy the awesome experience of pregnancy and birth.
Where does the poop come into this, you ask? Well, I am a very private person when it comes to bodily functions. Very. Like every partner, friend or family member would say I have no bodily functions—and that takes stealth to maintain. When I was pregnant with my daughter, Gray, my partner found an article in the type of magazine that you hide under your groceries because you are embarrassed to be seen purchasing it. This article found its way onto my fridge and while loading up the fridge with artichokes and asparagus (all I wanted to eat during my pregnancy,) I read a horrible statistic. I froze, the cold fridge air blasting at me and my giant belly. There in black and white it stated that 90 per cent of women poop on the table during delivery. The idea of pooping in front of my partner and a room full of medical staff made me want to faint.
Now fast forward to my birthing day, and 49 hours into my drug-free labour, the nurse told me I could push. This is where it gets tricky. In order to effectively push, one has to relax their whole nether regions, including their anus. I refused to do this, so I pushed with all my might while ensuring no poop was exiting my body at the same time. Needless to say, it was ineffective, and three hours of pushing later, I received a vacuum extraction to get Gray and her big head out. This had its own negative consequences, both physical and mental. Although, pooping may have been easier, in hindsight, the idea still makes me cringe.
I was planning to go to medical school in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. However, after my birth, I discovered two things. First, I wanted to have as active and intimate a role as my doula had during my labour and delivery. I didn’t even see a doctor until the last moment, and it was a man I had never seen in my life—not exactly the kind of intimacy I craved in my career. Second, I knew I would make a difference in women’s lives and during their birth by asking questions and developing a strong relationship ahead of time that would allow me to provide really amazing care, which would include supporting them through and educating them about all the healthy (yet possibly embarrassing) parts of pregnancy and delivery.
And I feel like I’ve been able to do that with my practice, bebo mia—a collective of doulas and parenting experts. When I feel my clients are anxious, unsafe, embarrassed, vulnerable or other emotions that (contrary to popular belief) have no place in the delivery room, I change the environment to the best of my ability to alleviate those feelings. This leads to better outcomes for mom and baby, and lots of happy mamas!
Why I became a doula? The poop story was a pretty crucial moment for me, not to mention my love of science and women’s health. The thrill of watching hundreds of babies come writhing into their parents arms is fantastic. There is nothing like it! I feel a connection to every one of the families I have supported, like an invisible thread. I know that my team and I are making a difference to hundreds of families during a really exciting (and scary) time in their lives—and poop (or lack thereof) brought us all together.
P.S. – I did not poop in birth… I remain seemingly bodily function-free.
Bianca Sprague – Bianca is the CEO for bebo mia and Baby and Me Fitness in Toronto, Canada, where she lives with her daughter. Bianca is trained and certified in many facets of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. With a background in psychology, Bianca focuses on the psycho-emotional aspects of the birth experience, an area that is frequently overlooked, but will affect every family at some point during their labour and birth. Oh, and she is a bad-ass roller derby player.
You can read more from her on her blog.