Supporting Maria and her husband Jose during the birth of their third girl was a very special experience for me and one I hope to have many more times throughout my career. They are a beautiful couple who grew up just outside of Mexico City and moved to Utah 9 years ago to be with their families who already lived in the US. Neither Maria or Jose know more than a few words in English, and I can hardly get through an introduction using choppy Spanish, so this birth support was primarily done without an ability to verbally communicate. Some of the nurses knew limited Spanish, one anesthesiologist was fluent, and I saw one medical interpreter during her time in Labor and Delivery at Intermountain Medical Center (IMC).
You can probably imagine that I was a tad nervous to not have a way to verbally communicate with this woman during her labor, and it's true! In preparation for working with her I spoke with my former doula trainer, Robynne Carter with Birth Learning, and she told me stories of how she has supported mothers when they had a language barrier.
*When working with Maria I spoke in soft, comforting tones (in English)
*I groaned and breathed in the deep and controlled ways that proves more beneficial during labor
*I was able to provide Maria with physical comfort measures throughout her labor with counter pressure, massage, cold compresses, food, water, and the rebozo.
Maria has two daughters and this was her third blessing. She had a healthy pregnancy and at 39 weeks + 4 days she woke at 1:00 AM when her water broke. She labored at home for 6 hours before she and her husband dropped their girls off at the babysitters house and checking in to Labor and Delivery. I met Maria at the hospital at 8:30 AM and supported her on a birth ball, walking the halls, and in her bed. When she was dilated to 9 CM and her contractions were regularly 2 minutes apart she asked for an epidural as she had with her other two births. We were not sure we would be able to get the epidural in time, but the anesthesiologist worked quickly and Maria was as still as she could be during her intense contractions, and she felt relief just before it was time to deliver her baby.
At 2:00 PM Maria was fully dilated and it was time for her to start pushing. Even with the epidural her pushes were efficient and after only 20 minutes she was holding her new baby girl and welcoming her into their family. Baby girl -who still does not have a name- was hungry and ready to breastfeed! An hour after coming into this world she had her first meal and then fell asleep.
My dream career path in birth work is to travel the world moving to different countries to learn about their beliefs surrounding pregnancy, birth, motherhood, breastfeeding, and maternal mental health. I hope to study these birth cultures, experience their traditions, and write about them along the way. Working as Maria's doula and supporting her during the birth of her third girl was a special experience for me, and one that I hope to can experience many times over as the years go by.