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 😉