Doula decodes contractions: here's what each contraction pattern really means

danae cappaletto

If you’re anything like me, you might have gone into (or are planning to go into) your birth with your blinders on. Research completed? Zero. Ideas about what could go wrong? Zilch. Eagerness for it to just all be over? Overwhelmingly high.

The only kind of mantras I told myself were, ‘Olivia, you’re one of hundreds of millions of women who has done this - maybe even trillions - just listen to the midwives and get out of there as quickly and as unscathed as possible’. Also, I told my husband that his only job was to make sure the epidural was on its way.

My mum had one with all of her three births - so that’s just what I was going to do, right?

Well, while my births delivered me two beautiful babies, I’ve realised that they also delivered birth-related trauma, too. And now that I host a podcast, and get to speak to midwives, obstetricians and doulas, as well as birthing experts from all walks of life, well - I’m left feeling a whole lot more clued up - and kind of like I want a do-over.

Our recent chat with Birth Doula Danae Cappelletto on the Cold Coffee, Hot Mess Podcast was one of those discussions that had me on the edge of my seat. Like with my birthing choices, I never felt the desire to learn more about doulas. I popped them straight into the ‘woo woo’ category and never thought much of it.

But Danae has shown me that doulas do the kind of work that can help to transform your experience, making it one that you’ll treasure and want to re-live, as opposed to ‘shudder when you think about it’.

So, what is it that doulas can bring to the table throughout a birth? Here are my key takeaways:

  • They’re not just a birthing suite ‘hype girl’! Actually, the relationship and care can begin in the very early stages of pregnancy, and not finish until well into the postpartum period.

  • They’re the masters of ‘optimal maternal positioning’, meaning that they will work with you to discover the optimum birthing position for you and your baby, based on which stage you’re at in your labour.

  • And the big one! They can actually tell what is happening inside of you, due to the length and frequency of your contractions - as well as the sounds you’re making. This comes from hours and hours of watching women in labour. If you sound like you're in rip-roaring labour, but your contractions are three minutes apart, then seven, then four, then six, then 3, then 5 - this kind of asymmetric contraction pattern tells the doula that the contractions are working hard to ‘turn’ your baby inside you, to a more optimum birthing position. Isn’t that incredible?!

In fact, there are so many other meanings behind different contraction patterns - you have to hear them for yourself! Listen now!

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