When preparing for baby, one of the best questions I asked was if I should hire a doula. The answer is always YES! Having that extra support person is huge.
Many moms choose to have a doula on their birth team. This decision is definitely a personal one and needs to be made with your husband and written into your birth plan – making sure you’re both comfortable with the choice. But WHY would someone choose to have a doula at their birth?
What is a Doula?
A doula is described as “a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to their client before, during and shortly after childbirth to help them achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.”
Studies have shown that the right Doula has a positive impact on not only the mother and baby but the family as a whole.
Should I Hire a Doula?
The evidence shows that women who labor with a doula by their side experience:
- 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin
- 28% decrease in the risk of C-section
- 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
- 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
- 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
- 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience
What Do Doulas Do?
Doulas fill many roles throughout labor. They can:
- Help you understand all the options that will be available for you whether you choose a medicated, natural, or cesarean birth
- Help you understand the stages of labor
- Meet you at your home (if you’re birthing at a hospital or birth center) to help you work through the early stages of labor
- Stay with you throughout labor so you are able to understand all options and help you work toward and through birth
- Help initiate breastfeeding after birth, if you so desire
- Help process the postpartum time
What Doulas Don’t Do
Doulas will not:
- Provide any medical care. Now, some doulas are also midwives, and you need to cover bases with them what they will or will not do. But as a general rule, there will be no taking of BP, cervical checking, etc….
- Make choices FOR you – They will help you better understand your choices, but should never speak for you
- deliver your baby
If you choose to hire a doula for your birth, it is helpful to interview a few doulas so you can figure out which doula will mesh the best with you and your husband/birth team. When interviewing, consider:
- Personalities (of all parties)
- What you would like for your doula to do
- What type of birth you would like
- How much you can spend on a doula
If the cost of a doula is concerning to you, don’t feel like having this amazing resource is out-of-reach. There are many ways to get this assistance, including:
- Bartering – Are you a photographer? Graphic designer? Cake maker extraordinaire?! Offer your services! You never know what response you’ll get!
- Search for a doula working towards her certification – many that need credit hours will offer their services for free or low-cost
- Ask a friend – if you’re desiring a particular birth, ask a friend who has been-there-done-that, that would be able to provide the assistance you are looking for
I didn’t have a clue what a doula was during my first pregnancy, and wish that I had! However, for my second birth, I had two doulas – one we had hired, and then a friend that was working towards her certification. Each provided such amazing support for me:
- Verbal encouragement to get past the mental ‘roadblocks’ setup from my first birth and cheering me on
- Physical support – massaging my back, providing a hand to hold, keeping cool washrags on my back and neck
- Keeping tabs on what my midwife and nurse had to say
- Helping with breastfeeding
During my third birth, which was much faster, and much more intense than my first two, the support I needed was much different. I really just needed my doula to provide counter-pressure on my back. I didn’t need words, as there wasn’t much time for much to happen, except quick dilation! But she did a great job of praying over me right at the moment I needed it, and she knew just where to press on my back, so my visual focus could remain on my husband.
Having that support person that can focus on me and only me is important.
Should I hire a doula?
YES, you should.
Terra Jones is a Childbirth International Certified Birth Doula. In addition to this, she is a music-loving, sweet tea drinking, homeschooling mom to three awesome boys (ages “almost 7”, 5, and 3) and wife to one incredible man.
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