I don't need a doula, I thought confidently, sure of my abilities as a mom who had done this birthing thing a few times before. Everyone raves about having a doula, but I sure didn't need one. I had my midwife, midwife assistant, and my husband. Why would anyone else need to be there? What could they do that my husband could not? Let's just save money, honey!
Yes, I was a doula skeptic.
As a well-seasoned mom of both hospital inductions and home-water births, I thought I had the birth of my baby number five in the bag. It would be exactly like it had been with my others: My husband holding my hand, whispering encouraging words in my ear while I roared life into this world. That was the plan. At least, until life threw me for a loop: My husband couldn't be there. See, we had three other kids who were the sickest I had ever seen them. We knew that my husband should stay with them to avoid spreading those dangerously high-fever germs. And, of course, because sick kids only want their parents for comfort and to wipe snot on their shirts. Knowing I would want more support geared to my needs through labor, I decided to allow a friend who was training to be a doula attend my birth and my best friend ended up staying as well, basically acting as a second doula for me.
And now? I'm kicking myself for not setting aside my pride and opening my wallet to pay for a doula with my previous births. It was that big of a difference! It was amazing.
Here's how to become a doula believer too: Just do it. Hire one. Why, you ask?
- They have been studied. Read this article from Evidence Based Birth, which studied the outcomes of births in which doulas were used. It reports a lower risk of C-sections, lower pitocin usage, and a higher overall satisfaction of the birthing experience.
- They are for every birth. Regardless of what type of birth you decide is best for you, whether it be a planned cesarean section, a home birth, or anything in between, they provide wonderful support tailored to your situation.
- They are your advocates. Birth is a vulnerable time. I mean, your pants are off and you most likely are begging to just get the baby out already, no matter the way. It can be easy to give in to what others think you should do. In the relationship you will form during pregnancy with your doula you will discuss how you envision birth, though. If you didn't want an epidural before, your doula will remind you of that goal and help you achieve it.
- They are tools of relaxation. This was the number one difference I experienced. My doulas were by my side with every contraction, one gently rubbing my hair while the other massaged my lower back. The power of touch was amazing! It was a very welcomed distraction to the intensity. Doulas can provide many tools or suggestions for relaxing.
- They can be a help to your husband, too. While my husband was not at my birth along with my doulas, I could see where having a doula would aid both parents in the laboring process and after. Doulas do not take your partner's place by any means; dads have important roles, too! But, partners may get tired and need to rest up for game time, so a doula could step in. Doulas can trade places with your partner or serve both of you so that there is always someone with you.
- They are there for your support. Yes, midwives, nurses, and doctors can help you with some things that doulas do, but their attention is often divided. A doula is meant to be by your side continuously.
- They are women. No offense to our men, really. I love my husband and I loved our past births where he did all he could to be my support. But, there is something about having a woman's touch and the power of women flowing through a room to feed off of when you are at your most vulnerable. Why? Because they get it. They are women like you and know what you are feeling because they have been there themselves.
- They are worth it, promise! I see now what the value is because I've experienced it. I wouldn't have another baby without one present. My births prior were great — they were — but looking back I can see where it would have been incredibly useful to have another person present with each one. Like the time I had to stand up to push an 8-pound baby out, with my husband supporting all my weight while my midwife caught a slippery baby above water with a cord wrapped four times. It would have been nice to have an extra pair of hands and support there!
People rave about doulas because they are great at their job. This isn't just their job, it is their passion to serve their momma client and family. I truly feel like they should be available to every mom for a happier birthing experience.
Indeed, I am a doula skeptic no more.