Top 5 reasons for hiring a doula at a homebirth

Some women don’t know what a doula is (no worries, my computer is also trying to auto-correct the word like it doesn’t exist)… some know, but don’t want one for their birth… and some think doulas are only beneficial in a hospital setting.

We didn’t hire a doula for our first birth. It was in a hospital and while we knew what a doula was, we just didn’t think we’d NEED one. I knew what I wanted–a natural birth–and I had my husband by my side. I mean, come on, we read The Bradley Method book. *eyes rolling – at myself* Well, we were lied to, the staff apparently never heard of “informed consent,” and I ended up with a c-section. No, I’m not saying that simply having a doula there would have prevented the c-section, but… she would have offered more support and more information and… you just never know.

This time, we had a homebirth. Even my midwife suggested we didn’t need to hire a doula when I mentioned wanting one. Her opinion (like many others) is that doulas are needed in hospitals–where you run into the possibility of interventions, medications, pushy medical professionals, and surgery. She said I didn’t have to worry about any of that with her, so why hire a doula?

Because. Doulas are NOT just for protection against interventions and pushy doctors. They’re for support.

And I can’t imagine a time when you’d need MORE support than a med-free, natural labor and childbirth (at home OR in a hospital).

So since we were planning this at home… with no options for pain medications… I wanted extra support. I wasn’t worried about my midwife and I wasn’t looking for “protection.” I also wanted to make sure I tried everything possible for a successful homebirth and, to me, that meant hiring a doula. So… what’d she do?

1. To get you through those contractions. This was the biggest for me. During our first labor, my husband froze up and didn’t say much more than two words. I knew if I was going to get through the pain of labor this time without pain meds, I needed much more support. This time, my husband really was amazing, but my doula really had an extra special touch. She noticed tensed muscles and helped me to relax them, she spoke quietly and calmly, she had me focus on what a great job I was doing and how much closer I was getting to meeting my baby girl… I am positive I would have had a much harder time without her.

2. To have another set of hands. I don’t think I ever wanted to be alone during labor, so extra hands were great to have. My doula prepared snacks for me to keep my energy up (cheese and crackers, toast, chicken broth, fruit, etc.), she was constantly refilling our water and juice bottles, getting cold washcloths for my head, etc. But she wasn’t just helping me–she was helping everyone else here, too. I had six people at my birth so you’d think we would have been set on extra hands, but my doula kept busy and was a constant help!

3. To give your partner a break. Some women say they don’t need or want a doula because they have their husband/partner and/or their mom or best friend. But what happens when they need to eat? Sleep? Take a mental break from it all? I loved having Steve by my side, too, but I would have lost him long before the birth if we didn’t have a doula to help him out. He was able to take naps, eat food, and just generally take a break from the labor.

4. Prenatal visits. Of course you’re getting prenatal care from your midwife (or a doctor), but prenatal visits with a doula can be so valuable! Sometimes it’s just easier to talk to them and ask questions. My doula helped me work through my fears about birth, overcoming my first cesarean and setting my sights on a successful VBAC. It was extremely helpful to have her to talk through my thoughts with. She helped me realize that I was not afraid of failure, I had  no fears that my body couldn’t do it–it was a relief. Going into labor and birth with a clear mind and positive attitude is really important, I think.

This was specific to my situation–you can hire a doula that will address the issues you  need, such as eating healthy, getting exercise, stressing less, massage, etc! Another important note: doulas are likely to be at your labor longer than your midwife–they’ll arrive first, as soon as you call them in early labor, wanting that extra support and comfort!

5. Postnatal care. Ohhh so many things fall into place here. It has been shown that women with doulas tend to have shorter labors, less complications and interventions, decreased use of pain meds, lowered cesarean rate…. and all of these things tend to result in more positive feelings toward the birth experience, greater feelings of self-confidence, better success with breastfeeding, and lower rates of postpartum depression. WOW. Doulas: you ROCK.

Some people say doulas are too expensive and it’s not a necessary cost. First, rates vary (when we were looking, we saw from $400 up to $1300) and you can likely find a doula-in-training or a newer doula with lower rates, possibly even free. Second… look at all those benefits I listed above. To me, they seem almost priceless (because, remember, I was on both sides of this situation). If you need help finding a doula or have any questions for me about hiring a homebirth doula, feel free to ask!!! Comment below or send me an email 😉

 

16 comments to Top 5 reasons for hiring a doula at a homebirth

  • I think I’d really like one this time around. I’m not quite sure why though. Even though my previous two births were very different when it came down to it I was the same. I didn’t want to be touched, talked to, or really any contact. It’s not how I expected myself to be but apparently that’s just how I am when I’m in labor and it’s what works for me. Up until it actually happens I have these plans that someone is going to give me massages and help me through and then it gets there and I evil eye anyone who dares even make a peep or even think about touching me. *sigh* lol The only thing I can think that she’d have to do is sit there and stare at me so Nick could go take a nap and feel like someone was there. And honestly I told him this time around he should just go do that anyway because someone will be there anyway. Sooooo – any suggestions about what I might do with a doula in my situation? (And why do I feel like I want one when I’m not sure what she’d actually have to do in my particular situation?)

    All that said, I’m SO glad that you had a doula there for you. Your birth was such a marathon that having that extra support was so incredibly important.

    [Reply]

    babydickey Reply:

    For me, it depended on the person. There were some people that drove me nuts when they spoke and I didn’t want them to touch me or talk to me AT ALL. But overall, I liked the quiet and calm affirmations during contractions and the very light touch at my shoulders to remind me to relax those muscles. I think because otherwise they would just be sitting and staring at me and that was terrible to me! LOL.

    [Reply]

  • Courtney Kamer

    How interesting that you point this out. I’m planning a home birth (due in a couple days) and when I brought up the possibility of hiring a doula to my midwife, she asked me what SHE would have to do then. Apparently she prefers to work alone. I sensed it made her so defensive that I dropped it. But I, like you, had a complicated first labor, and I have a hubby who seems not up to the task of supporting me. I just want extra help. I wish I had read this a long time ago. Maybe I would have pressed it.

    [Reply]

    babydickey Reply:

    Yea my midwife was kinda the same way, but I had them meet before the birth and everything was great. My midwife was very laid back and hands off though – not the type to coach me through contractions, massage my shoulders, etc – so my doula had plenty to do! Maybe your midwife is different and will be those things for you, too! Good luck, mama! <3

    [Reply]

  • Interesting to know what is involved in home birth. I was one of the ones that had no idea what a doula was. I’m glad you were able to have a great birthing experience 🙂

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  • THANK YOU for writing this!!! I am a Doula in training and love your post.

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  • Thank you for writing this!! I’m a doula out of the Ann Arbor, MI area, and I’ve loved this post! I agree with everything you’ve said and my clients have brought up all of these points on their own as well! As far as the “unnecessary cost”, I have a clause on my web site (www.harmonydoulaservices.org) that states: “I do not want price to come between you and your ideal birth experience”. Sure, I want to make a living doing what I love, but it’s MUCH MORE important to me to advocate for women and POSITIVE birth experiences!! Every woman – every birth – DESERVES a doula!! 🙂

    [Reply]

    babydickey Reply:

    I agree!! 🙂 Thanks for doing what you do!

    [Reply]

  • Shannon

    Great article. I am due in 5 weeks and still feel on the fence about having a doula. I have had 2 wonderful births without one, but have made several dear doula friends and they also feel they’re essential.

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  • Monique

    Hi. I am not pregnant yet, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared when I get to be blessed with my own bundle of joy. I know I want a home birth. I don’t like the idea of a sterile hospital environment. Ont to mention my debilitating fear of needles. I also don’t want doctors near me when I give birth, have heard bad things about doctors interfering during birth. My mother gave birth to me in a hospital,as she didn’t know about home births and midwives. The doctors broke her water before she was allow to begin to push and I got stuck almost instantly. So they had to push on her stomach and pull me out with a suction cup. I have back problems to this day and my head is oddly shaped. I also have anxiety related problems that I can guess stem from a stressful birth. Can anyone tell me how to get hold of midwives and dolas in South-Africa?

    [Reply]

    Emily Dickey Reply:

    Hi Monique! Definitely doesn’t hurt to be prepared 🙂 I’m checking out some resources for you, but I did find these websites that may help – or at least you can contact them for help in your search – good luck! <3

    http://www.homebirth.org.za/www.homebirth.org.za/home.html
    http://www.homebirth.co.za/
    http://www.african-midwives.com/2012/private-or-independent-midwives-in-south-africa/

    [Reply]

  • B

    I had a doula when my baby was born. I won’t have one again. I felt like she was in the way and tried to push my mom and partner out of the way. She didn’t know when it was appropriate to leave and didn’t have a car so she was there the entire time and didn’t give us any time alone. My labor was long, and I feel like she had a little something to do with that because at times it was uncomfortable that she was there. Next time around, it will only be my partner and my mom as my support.

    [Reply]

    Emily Dickey Reply:

    I’m so sorry 🙁 I completely agree that the people present at your birth can affect its outcome – how long it is, how relaxing, or how stressful. I interviewed a lot of doulas before picking one… then actually fired her after 1-2 meetings because I was worried about this same thing. There wasn’t a connection, we didn’t “click” and I thought I’d be uncomfortable during labor with her. So I found a new one and she was amazing… like a friend. I think it definitely depends on comfort level with the person and I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you!

    [Reply]

  • Thank you so much for this post. It is so nice to see the perspective of someone who has experienced birth with and without a doula. I am currently considering my options for doula certification and I am so excited to offer my support to laboring moms and dads!

    [Reply]

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