After about an 8 week hiatus from attending births, I got to witness an incredible mama give birth this past weekend. Now as an Edmonton doula that’s witnessed many births, I’ve gotten used to the weird hours, the various bodily fluids and seeing women be incredibly primitive (to learn a bit more about what the life of an Edmonton doula is like, read this blog post). However, there’s one thing that just doesn’t seem to get easier with attending more and more births – and that is the hormonal come-down that I, your Edmonton doula, experience after a birth.
To further explain this interesting phenomenon that I and many other Edmonton doulas experience, I first want to find another situation to relate to. In my earlier adult years I attended many concerts and festivals (ok I’ll just say it, raves) where many of the patrons partook in various substance use. I actually worked as a character model for a while in which I’d wander around these raves dressed up in various costumes and interact with guests to enhance their experience. This would require me to be in close proximity with many people who were high on various things, and one thing I was warned about was the “contact high”. For those of you who have never heard this term before, it’s a theory that if you get close enough to someone who is “trippin’” to the point that you touch them, you can experience some of the side effects of the high just by physical contact. Many people I know think this is just a silly excuse that ravers made up to deny that they used drugs, but others are adamant that it is true and I now belong to this group!
My reason for sharing this (other than establishing that I in fact used to rave a ton and I’m proud of it!), is because for an Edmonton doula, birth can cause a massive contact high. We hip squeeze, massage, hold, hug, rub your back, etc… it’s not very often that we aren’t in physical contact with our clients at some point. Even without physical touch, as Edmonton doulas we are empaths and absorb a lot of the energy from the room. So after a birth, many of us experience very real and very intense “birthy” feelings. I’m sure many Edmonton doulas manifest and process these very differently, but personally I experience intense emotions (crying spells, feelings of euphoria, moments of anger, etc), uterine cramping and even sometimes, when it’s a really intimate birth, mild interruptions of my menstrual cycle (increased fertile mucous, intense cramping if I am bleeding at the time, a delay in bleeding, etc) after getting home from a birth. It’s like we absorb oxytocin in huge amounts and then when we get home, we have to come down off of that surge in oxytocin! Totally wild I know and I don’t have any evidence to share that this is a real thing, but I can give you some names of some Edmonton doula sisters that will attest to experiencing the same thing!
Are you a doula or another birth worker? Have you experienced a hormonal come down after a birth? Tell me about your experience in the comments!