Ruwa was nervous at our first meeting. Soft-spoken, she asked about my role as a doula for her birth. I walked with her in pregnancy and birth and when she went into labour, I met her at the hospital. Her birth changed everything. She was shown how powerful her birthing body was and that she could do anything. Here is her story of the birth of her son…
My name is Ruwarashe and I am 21-years-old and I come from Zimbabwe. I’m currently studying at UCT. I became pregnant in September 2018. Pregnancy was going to be a hard journey for me, as I didn’t understand anything about birth and even worse, I was a long way from home where I had friends and family to guide and support me. In Cape Town, I have little support. So many people recommended I get a doula, especially since I felt quite isolated in Cape Town without my family near.
Choosing a doula for me was so important, because I needed someone compassionate and soft and when I went onto Charlene’s website, I knew she was the doula who would understand my fear and confusion of becoming a mother. ( I hadn’t even met her in person yet, but I just knew.)
I remember I wasn’t sure if I was going to have anyone close to me at my birth, because my family and fiancé stayed so far away… And I had so many fears of becoming a new Student mom. Charlene reminded me that she was going to be there for me – and that I would be ok, no matter what turn it took. She said this at our first meeting.
Charlene engaged with me every week reminding me to trust the process of the journey I was on, offering me her kind support along the way. I was at school from 8am to 5pm everyday and I was at school until I was 9 months pregnant.
She also made sure we were able to meet close by to where I lived, as I did not have a car. She did this without hesitation – and it was so kind of her. When I felt low, I would message her and we would chat and she would encourage me to keep my faith and to be strong.
I think what especially helped were the Relax Into Birth visualisation tracks. Listening to them regularly helped me realise that birth wasn’t just an event, it was a process – a beautiful process… Finally I was learning to trust the process – and trusting myself to do it! I felt strong enough to birth my baby boy. The strength seemed to come from within me. A deep knowing.
The Relax Into Birth classes made me realise I wasn’t just doing a duty a woman is required to do; no! My body was giving life to a soul, another human being. Although it was about birth, it also somehow helped me establish what type of mom I was going to be to my little boy.
When I finally went into labour, the emotional support for me and my fiancé was tremendous! She always made sure I was as comfortable as I could be in those circumstances. When it was time for me to deliver, I remember I was very tired – and our doula Charlene never once wavered, always trying ways to help energise me and encourage me to bring my son down to earth.
During my visits to the doctor, I was told we had to schedule an induction, because they didn’t want me going over my due date, which was the 26th of May. I wasn’t so sure I wanted an induction considering the potential complications. It was really not what I wanted.
In my 39th week, I went for cervix check to prepare for my induction. I was notified that soon I was going to be in labour – and that it was likely I would not need an induction. On Thursday 23 May, my waters broke as I was going to bed. I remember I kept my calm. I took an Uber with my fiance who had arrived from Zimbabwe, even though my contractions hadn’t kicked in properly yet. I didn’t want to stay at home after that because I didn’t want to be under pressure to rush to the hospital when it became necessary. I didn’t want something dramatic! Charlene did join us at the hospital when my contractions got regular and intense. She was there the whole time and I held onto her. She created such a calming environment in such a tense situation. I remember I had moved 1 cm in 4 hours and all I wanted was an epidural. I asked the nurses for an epidural, but was refused by them, saying it was too early to administer. In the face of that, my doula encouraged me to keep going and to stay strong as I was birthing my angel.
We used other forms of natural pain relief. We used the shower and we counted together and breathed together and finally at 7 am they decided to insert a dose of prostaglandin gel to help my cervix open. Once that was given to me, five minutes later I was standing to go poo in the toilet and another five minutes later I was walking myself to the tub in the delivery room. During that walk I definitely felt my baby was coming! I got into the tub for a few minutes and notified both my fiancé and Charlene that the baby was indeed coming.
The delivery room not prepared by the hospital staff (as they didn’t expect me to push so soon), they quickly put me on the bed, and there was my baby crowning! They quickly set up the room as I involuntarily pushed him out. A few pushes and I had birthed my baby.
My birth taught me to trust my body and trust my baby. I have never felt as strong or as empowered as I did in those first days. I was blessed to have such a positive, empowered birthing.