At Excel by Eight, one of our goals is to ensure that all women receive complete, high-quality preconception, prenatal, and postpartum care. Candace’s experience highlights the importance of doula support in advocating for patients’ voices to be heard during childbirth. She shares how her doula, Nicolle Fletcher, provided crucial support during Candace’s challenging 36-hour labor, ensuring her wishes were heard. Read her story below.

I was set on having a home birth, but after being in labor for 36 hours straight, I was exhausted. My doula, Nicolle Fletcher, told me I needed rest and asked if I would like to go to the hospital or continue trying at home. I was so tired and opted for the hospital. When we got there, I changed my mind about wanting a natural birth and asked for pain relief so I could take a nap.

Even though things didn’t go as planned, Nicolle was there for me every step of the way. When the epidural wasn’t administered correctly, she reminded me to breathe and helped me stay calm. My doctor recommended a C-section because I had been in labor for 42 hours at that point, and he left to get dressed for surgery as the medical staff prepared the room.  My husband had gone home to check on the other kids, and my mom went to get Nicolle from the waiting room to let her know what was about to happen. And that’s when Nicolle came in and did her best doula work. 

Nicolle asked the nurse if I could push when I felt a contraction, and the nurse said I could. I pushed, and they saw the baby’s head. The nurse went to get my doctor to let him know the baby was coming. Nicolle told me, “When you feel the second contraction, push.” My sister was in the room and was assisting me at first, but she had to excuse herself to the bathroom when she saw the baby’s head – she knew she wasn’t cut out for that! So it was just me and my doula in the room. I pushed for the second time, and my baby came out.

Of course my emotions were flowing because my baby was finally here, so I was grateful Nicolle was in doula mode speaking on my behalf. She knew I wanted a delayed cord clamping, so she let the birth team know what I wanted and what I did not want. It was amazing to have her support in the delivery room. Even before the delivery, the educational process that she provided was helpful. My whole support team was involved and knew the plan.

I highly recommend a doula for anyone who can afford one, even if you plan to give birth in a hospital from the start. Having someone in the room with you who knows the medical terminology and who providers respect makes all the difference. Nicolle’s support and advocacy meant everything during my entire pregnancy, especially since I’ve experienced three miscarriages before having my son. Now, as I’m expecting again, I know my doula will be there to help me through it all.

Candace Graham
Maumelle, Arkansas

Candance Graham with her husband and son.

World Doula Week occurs annually from March 22, beginning with World Doula Day, continuing through March 28. Doula support is vital for maternal health, from pregnancy to postpartum. That’s why Excel by Eight is proud to assist visionary doulas across Arkansas as they advocate for better access to doula services. Together, we’re addressing maternal health challenges and championing quality care for all. View our policy agenda here.