The Single Working Expat Mom shares the benefits of using a doula for single expecting expats.

Being pregnant, especially for the first time, is a wonderful amazing beautiful life-changing miracle that will make you radiate, look like the goddess herself and make you ooze femininity and life.

But it also sucks. And will give you swollen fingers and feet. And make you dead tired and nauseous and cranky. And lots of things happen with your body that all don’t make any sense at all. And you have questions, lots of questions. And this all sucks double because you are single and can’t even get on your partner’s nerves. And ask him to get you answers to all those weird feelings or feel your belly. Or send him to get fries at three o’clock in the morning. And probably you won’t be able to bite his head of during labour either.

Naturally, the next choice in such situations is your own mommy. Which is very handy, because chances are, she has been there, done that and can talk from experience. She could come with you to midwife and ultrasound appointments and be there for you when you are pushing and panting away. But wait, it all sucks even more, because you are an expat and your mother isn’t there either. Now, mom hates that at least as much as you do, but life is life and depending on how far away she is, it’s also hard to just pop over when things get a bit rough.

In this situation, what helped me tremendously, was my wonderful doula. I had never heard of the term or concept before, so I thought I share with you. Wikipedia describes the term doula as follows:

A doula is a nonmedical person who assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth, as well as her spouse and/or family, by providing physical assistance, and emotional support.

When looking for a doula, the most important aspect for me was to find a woman whom I could trust unconditionally. Someone who could see through me and just ‘gets me’. I was very lucky, because I only searched for a brief time before I found that my pregnancy yoga teacher, Karen, was also a doula and I felt an instant connection with her.

The reasons, why I chose to engage Karen were very straight forward.

I Wanted Someone to Be There For Me at Birth. 

This was the first and most pressing reason. I did not want to be alone. And also, I did not feel comfortable to have my own mother there. Plus, being far away, she might not have made it in time anyway. A close and dear friend of mine had already agreed to be my birth partner, but I felt I needed someone who had seen a lot of women give birth and could give me extra confidence during labour. A doula will also make sure that the medical staff at a birth is aware of and sticking to your birth plan – something that is said to be quite difficult for yourself when you are in … pain. And lastly, where midwives and medical staff work in shifts, the doula provides continuous support throughout the entirety of the labour and birth process – the one person that will not leave your side.

I Needed Someone to Help Me Understand.

I am the type of person who likes to know what is going on. In great detail. And doulas know. They know all about the iffy bits of pregnancy, the different stages of birth, pain relief options, life with baby, what things to write in a birth plan, what happens at the routine appointments etc. It was invaluable to have a trusted source in Karen who knew and was happy to share her experience with me. I found that internet searches especially were very confusing because I had no frame of reference how reliable the different sources were. With Karen, she understood my views on life and pregnancy and helped me interpret different options.

I Needed Someone Who Knew the Local Differences.

Being an expat, ultimately things will work differently than in your home country. And even though Germany and the Netherlands are neighboring countries, the approaches to pregnancy, child birth and maternity are surprisingly different. Karen helped me get a grip on what is considered ‘normal’ for the Dutch and helped me adjust my birth plan accordingly.

I Needed Perspective.

Sometimes, during pregnancy, you just freak out a little. Or you brush something off that you should take seriously. My nature is more the latter and the regular contact with Karen was a good check-in for me. Twice, she had me go check with the midwife to see if everything was okay with baby where I would not have gone. Equally, when I had to make some tough decisions later in pregnancy, she helped me keep a clear head and weigh off the pros and cons.

Karen helped me write my birth plan, explained to me the ins and outs of child birth and shared many of her experiences with me. She joined me to a few ultrasound scans and midwife appointments and just kept track of my general well-being over phone, email and by having regular in-person meetings. She will be there for me when I give birth and check up on my baby and I in the weeks after.

Doula services are highly tailored and thus prices differ greatly. It is important that you discuss in detail what it is that you need and want with a future doula. Don’t decide hastily but make sure you find someone you trust and really want to have next to you in one of the most intimate moments of your life.

The only sad thing is that Karen doesn’t get me fries at three o’clock either, but I suppose you can’t have it all.

If you are living in the Amsterdam region and looking for a doula, pregnancy yoga or antenatal classes in English, you can find Karen at Bump & Beyond.

This article first appeared on Single Working Expat Mom, and has been republished with permission.

photo credit: Pregnant via photopin (license)

Sonja Wraith