The Joy is in the Journey
I am Chelsey Hernandez Whitcomb, founder of Doulightful Beginnings Birth Care. As a former educator, I believe continual education is the cornerstone to our growth as individuals and this was even more true during my pregnancy. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I saw “Business of Being Born,” which completely changed how I viewed pregnancy and birth and I realized I had so much to learn! From there, I read Ina May Gaskin’s “Guide to Childbirth” and took a Bradley Method birthing class. It was through this decision that I decided to hire a doula to help at my birth. This is a decision I have never regretted.
My doula was there for me during my pregnancy by answering every question I had. She helped provide me with topics to discuss with my doctor that I had not considered before and then she helped me really understand the things my doctor told me. She also kept me informed with evidence based research, so I could make informed decisions about my care and what I wanted during my birth experience. The biggest challenge I faced during my pregnancy was that my daughter was in the frank breech position starting around 28 weeks. As my appointments with my doctor progressed, my doctor kept asking me to schedule a C-Section, but I KNEW deep down that my baby would turn. My doctor also kept wanting me to have an external cephalic version or ECV, but I wasn't sure about that. This procedure involved the doctor doing an ultrasound to check my baby's position and then manually pushing and pulling on my stomach to try to get my baby to flip. This procedure did not come without risk. My doctor gave it a 40% chance of working in my case and kept telling me to schedule my C-Section. My doula provided me with so much information on natural methods I could use to try to get my baby to turn head down on her own, but my girl was stubborn. By 36 weeks, my daughter still had not turned and my doula AGAIN went over the pros and cons of having an ECV. She answered every question I had and if she didn't know the answer to a question, she sought information from other doulas and midwives in the area. At 37 weeks, I decided to go ahead with having the ECV done since we had exhausted literally ALL other measures to try to get my baby to flip head down. My doula met me at the hospital and helped ease the tension in the room because I was very nervous. When the doctors came to do the ECV, my doula held my hand, reminded me of my breathing, prayed in my ear, and helped me relax. I believe her ability to help me relax most definitely helped the ECV to be successful. The moment I felt my daughter flip head down we were all joyful and relieved.
Two weeks later, I woke up to contractions during the night. My doula kept in touch with phone support and reminded me of things I could do at home to stay relaxed and by 9 am the next day, she again met me at the hospital. My entire labor was only 14 hours long, which is considered short for a first time mother. I credit my doula with helping me achieve an unmedicated, natural birth, which was exactly what I wanted. She reminded me of my strength and courage and she helped me get mentally back into the hardest part of labor when I kept saying, "I don't want to be in pain anymore" or "I can't do this anymore." She didn't replace anyone in the birthing room, but complemented them and added her expertise and guidance when needed. She also kept hospital staff aware of my wishes and desires when I was unable to do so.
Once my daughter was born, my doula immediately showed me how to breastfeed. Within 20 minutes, my daughter successfully latched on and we never looked back! Whenever I had questions over the next several months, my doula STILL provided resources and breastfeeding support to help me reach my goal in breastfeeding for at least a year. I am proud to say that my daughter and I successfully nursed for 16-17 months when she self-weaned.
Once I was home from the hospital, she visited me to check on my well-being and helped me remember parts of my baby’s birth story that I had forgotten. It was great to have an objective and educated view of the details that happened during my birth to fill in the gaps of what I had missed while I was laboring.
After my daughter’s birth, I became a “birth junkie” and had to read every article I found on pregnancy, birth, labor, and breastfeeding. This is the moment when MY doula suggested I become A doula!
Overall, hiring a doula was single-handedly the best decision I made for my birthing experience. For the birth of my second child during "the Covid year" 2020, I chose to have him at home and actually had TWO doulas by pure luck! The doula I used in 2016 didn't think she'd be available, so I hired someone else for my second birth, but by "original" doula ended up being available, so I ended up with two doulas and two midwives and gave birth in a birth pool in my bedroom. I now consider my birth team my friends as the impact they had on me both personally and professionally has been invaluable.
My first birth experience in a hospital setting is when I realized the importance a woman’s birthing experience is and how much it can impact her life by giving her a sense of empowerment or a feeling of defeat. My second birth experience at home taught me the differences in a medicalized "OB" style of compare versus midwifery care. Now it is my passion to be the doula YOU need me to be - whether you choose to deliver at a hospital, birthing center, or at home, or whether you choose to have an unmedicated birth or not! I am here to support YOU in your decisions on how YOU want to birth and I hope to be there for YOU the way my doula was there for me.
Please contact me to schedule your FREE consultation to meet and discuss how I can serve you in your birthing experience!
Much Love, God Bless, and Happy Birthing!