A New Mother’s Testimonial, April 2008
My husband and I decided to ask Rhonda to be our doula for the birth of our second child, Joshua. Though I had a birth plan for our first baby, it was truly a challenge to achieve the goals we had in mind in the hospital setting. Although we were thrilled with an uncomplicated birth of a healthy little girl, we wished that staff had been more supportive of natural methods and sources of comfort. “Didn’t you go to a birthing class?” (labor & delivery nurse) and “tell her she’s pushing wrong and call me when she does it right” (OBGYN) contributed to me feeling anxious about my abilities to manage labor. I wish that I had known what a doula brings to the birthing process at that time!
The birth of our second child, with Rhonda present, was an entirely different experience! Rhonda met with us in our home as we awaited our little boy, helping us clearly conceptualize and convey how we hoped his birth might occur. As my due date came and passed, Rhonda checked in frequently and reminded us to trust that Joshua would arrive when it was time, and to trust the work of his and my body. She also offered safe, gentle ideas for helping the process along, since Grandma had flown in for a limited-time visit, and we really hoped that she could be there for our daughter when Joshua was born! When Joshua’s birthday arrived, Rhonda was first available by phone for counsel, urging us to call as soon as signs of labor began and helping us know when it was time for us to head for the hospital. I very much appreciated that, throughout the process, Rhonda offered advice geared toward our birth plan yet was very receptive to hearing our thoughts, feelings, and opinions. We never felt pressured by Rhonda to proceed in a manner we didn’t feel comfortable with, and yet she was very able to speak up about what her experience and knowledge as both mother and doula has taught her. This balance is crucial in the emotional and life-changing process of birthing a baby!
My labor with Joshua was complicated a bit by a placental abruption and bleeding that was worrisome to both mother and medical staff. Rhonda’s calming presence helped us continue to advocate for following our birth plan (continuing movement, avoiding pitocin, avoiding medication for pain, etc.) despite the unexpected event. I always felt that Rhonda was a teammate by my side in this process, with both of us being very respectful of the doctor’s guidance and recommendations since, of course, the baby’s safety must come first, but also not hesitating to ask for accommodations to facilitate the use of natural techniques we had planned. I believe that Rhonda’s support, calm spirit, and faith in the wisdom of natural childbirthing helped me “negotiate” with and find compromises with my doctor, who knew ahead of time about my birth plan. Our compromises included preparing for an IV but not actually having one in place (Hep-lock) and baby being monitored electronically at frequent intervals but me being allowed to walk the halls in between and sit on the birthing ball while being monitored. For my daughter’s birth, there was no complication or bleeding, yet I was not allowed to leave the bed because I was told she had not been monitored long enough. The inability to walk and change positions immensely intensified my experience of pain and helplessness.
With Joshua’s birth, I was very surprised when it was “already” time to push because I had felt so calm, confident, and in control during the earlier stages. I felt so relaxed as I walked the halls with Rhonda, chatting and stopping for each contraction to find a comforting position, that I was fine with my husband leaving to grab lunch. This would never have happened during my daughter’s birth!! We also worked with the doctor to convince her to let us walk and wait for progress to be made, rather than start pitocin, and this worked beautifully and comfortably! I am not sure that I would have felt confident enough to really ask the doctor to clarify what must occur for safety from what is just standard procedure. Also very importantly, I was able to labor in whatever position felt right, with Rhonda right by one side and my husband on the other. I remember Rhonda telling me again and again that the experience of pressure was a good thing, because it was my body working to help me meet Joshua, and introduce him to his sister, an image that I so happily imagined for nine months.
After Joshua was born, Rhonda continued to support me during a difficult placenta delivery, allowing my husband to focus on our little boy, and then shared in our absolute amazement with our wide-awake, content, great-nursing baby boy, snapping pictures and commenting on his personality while offering helpful nursing tips. She stayed with our family for so long, and must have been so exhausted after our day, including all the hand squeezing from me. She called and visited our home soon after birth, with a special gift for the new big sister too, who also looked forward to Rhonda’s visits!
When I think of the birth of our little boy, I will always remember the calming, comfortable, and supportive, yet strong, knowledgeable and faithful presence of Rhonda!
My husband and I most heartily recommend that you engage Rhonda as a partner in your birthing process…it will truly ease and enrich your experience, allowing you to fully focus on the bliss that is meeting your new baby!
Kristy C.~East Grand Forks, Minnesota
My wife, Alex, and I were pregnant with our first baby (Paul) for almost four months when she came home from a shopping trip with big news: she wanted to have a completely natural birth. No pain relief drugs, no drugs to speed labor—she would have this baby as women have for centuries. When we told our Dr. about our plan, she recommended we talk to a Doula she had worked with, Rhonda Huot.I knew a little about Doulas from my fatherhood-preparedness reading, but not much. The role of the Doula was to help with the labor/birthing process, and that was about all I knew.Rhonda came over to our house to meet with us, and I was immediately impressed with her friendly, easy-going personality. That first meeting, Rhonda wanted to find out what we thought her role might be, but she mostly wanted to get to know us a little. Through the following meetings, we became friends. Rhonda is very knowledgeable and was able to answer our questions without trying to sway our feelings about our birth plan. She led us through the process rather than persuading.We learned the role of the Doula is not only to help mom through whatever birth plan she wants—whether totally natural or epidural assisted—but also to help dad help mom. By the end of our second meeting with Rhonda, I was feeling much more comfortable about the arrival of our son. I knew that Rhonda would be there to help Alex deal with the pain of labor and birth, and she would also guide me if and when I needed help.Alex started labor at 11pm on a Sunday, and she was ready for me to call Rhonda by about 3am Monday. Her contractions were about 5 minutes apart. Rhonda got out of bed, got ready, and was at our house by about 5am. I cannot possibly describe how good it was to have Rhonda. The calming effect she had on Alex was immediately noticeable, and Alex being calmer made me more relaxed.
Throughout the next 30 hours (yeah, 30 hours no drugs) Rhonda was constantly by our sides, helping with anything we needed and providing comfort to us both. I was so happy to have her near during Alex’s labor. We had all the birthing classes and read a bunch of books, but, when the time came, I admit to being mostly a little lost and concerned for my wife. It was hard to watch her have contractions and be in pain, knowing all I could do was hold and comfort her. Rhonda comforted Alex with her experienced and thoughtful words, reminding her throughout that everything was natural and, most importantly, OK. What I had not anticipated was how much having her there comforted me, as well.
As it turned out, the baby was too big and was delivered by Caesarian. Rhonda stood by and helped us talk to the doctors and make this difficult decision. More importantly, she was there afterwards to help Alex get started nursing.
Rhonda continues to help us. Alex often calls with questions about feeding or Paul’s general well-being. As an experienced mother and Doula, Rhonda is the calming voice for Alex, even when her answers are the same as mine.I would recommend Rhonda to anyone getting ready to have a baby. I never felt she was in the way, or taking me out of my role as father and husband. Quite the opposite, I think we both would have felt a little lost without her. For our next child, we both want a Doula. If Rhonda is around, she has first dibs for sure!
Justin N.~Grand Forks, North Dakota