This has happened several times in my career as a birth doula…
➠ A repeat client is working with me.
➠ They have a concern or fear or burning question related to their previous birth.
➠ They have a fuzzy memory of events and times or even a strong memory of something that doesn’t make sense.
➠ Their partner has a completely different memory.
➠ They need some solid information to move forward.
➠ They expect me to remember what happened at their previous birth.
Enter the Doula Birth Log.
This is a set of notes simply related to the timeline and events at the birth. It’s a factual list of who, when, what, and where.
Sometimes it also has why and quotes. It has no opinions or flowery language. It is not a birth-story.
That client who recalls having her baby moments after arriving at the hospital and is afraid of not getting there “in time” for this birth? The notes say we arrived at 7:30pm, went into a birth room at 7:45pm, and the baby was born at 9:34pm. That is indeed fast but my client was reassured that she had almost 2 hours to be safely settled before she met her first baby.
One of my clients recalled being exhausted after “pushing for 6 hours”. She was afraid of getting through a long second stage with this upcoming birth, now that she’s tired from chasing a toddler through her pregnancy. Let’s look it up! The notes show she started bearing down at 4:10am and had her baby at 6:32am. She and her partner both felt more hopeful about their upcoming birth.
Other questions can be answered and mysteries solved by looking up a good set of notes.
➠ Who was that nice nurse; we’d like to send her a card?
➠ What’s the name of that doctor who broke my waters without asking first; I'd like to file a complaint?
➠ What position was I in when I felt the baby drop lower so I could begin pushing?
In any intense experience, such as birth and those early postpartum days, timelines blur and focus narrows. If 3 people are at a birth there will be 3 different stories.
While it’s not our place to influence how someone feels about their previous birth, we can use our notes to help them get a clear picture of what happened and when (maybe why) and who was involved.
Information about their previous birth can help them plan and dream about their next one.