Meet Lissette, New York

Lissette gets the doula support she needs to avoid depression and navigate the health system during her second birth.

Lissette’s first pregnancy occurred when she was 17-years-old. Lacking family support, she became depressed and as Lissette says, “I ended up getting a C-section from all the stress.” She lost custody of her daughter as a result of her depression. Now 24, pregnant with her second baby and fleeing an abusive relationship, Lissette lives in a domestic violence shelter. Worried about depression creeping into her current pregnancy, Lissette asked for support, which led her to her Ancient Song doula, Rochelle.

Lissette wants a vaginal birth for this baby and the idea of another C-section is stressful. Her doula helped her understand that she had options regarding her medical care. Lissette says, “I didn’t know I had a choice. Most of them said, ‘Once a C-section, always a C-section.’ I thought that the medical profession would tell me things and that’s OK because they’re professionals, but I was losing sleep.” The hospital closest to Lissette’s shelter has a high C-section rate but Lissette finds the bureaucratic challenges of switching to another hospital to be too difficult. At 36 weeks, Lissette is told she has cholestasis, a complication of pregnancy that in rare cases can cause stillbirth. Afraid she could lose the pregnancy; Lissette decides to schedule another C-section. When labor starts before her scheduled date, Lissette is rushed into an operating room for a C-section despite her wish to go home. Rochelle stays by her side throughout her hospitalization.

When Lissette returns to Ancient Song’s office for postpartum support weeks after delivery, her doulas ask a simple question: ‘How are you?’ Despite the difficulties of her pregnancy and birth, Lissette replies, “I’m happy,” which reassures her doulas that with the right support, this mother and her baby are going to be OK.

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