There are plenty of opinions about doulas. What I find funny is the people I’ve encountered that have expressed the strongest opinion actually have no freaking clue what a doula is- go figure!
I’ve had the following said to me:
– what is that some sort of voodoo witch doctor?
– you don’t need one- your body knows what to do
– you are going to be cursing at your husband the whole time and not wanting anyone to talk or touch you- no need to waste your money on a doula
– you will let a stranger in the delivery room but not me?
and my personal favorite…
– doula? is that the bomb vest a terrorist wears?
The decision whether or not to use a doula is as personal as whether or not you want to breastfeed- it’s not for everyone. And just like breastfeeding (or not) it should not be judged.
As someone who is so engulfed in everything involving pregnancy after infertility I’ve definitely educated myself and decided a doula is what is right for my labor and delivery. Mike wasn’t on board with the decision at first. He never came out with a real reason but based on his “excuses” for not wanting one all I can guess is that he would feel left out. He’s been soooo incredibly involved in this entire pregnancy. He only missed 1 doctor appoint in the past 9 months and that was due to a work conflict that was not his doing. He’s attended all the classes, read a couple of “daddy” books and has signed up for all the apps, emails and daddy groups. He knows all the lingo and what to expect. In the beginning he didn’t know what a doula was. I told him a doula is a birth coach. I think in his mind a doula would take over the delivery and he would be pushed to the side as a bystander. “But I want to cut the cord!” That was one of his first reactions. I told him she would be OUR coach and there for US, not just me. Her purpose it to aid/coach/support the mommy AND the daddy. She could take over the massages when he got tired or go get me ice chips and a snack for him. She could remind us of everything we learned in the birth class (which will surely fly out the window once the chaos ensues). She can keep the nurses and doctor in line with our birth plan. She can make suggestions for more comfortable positions, she can keep us focused and on course AND she can even take pictures of the delivery and the first time we see our son. The more he educated himself about it the more he came around and started asking when we would start interviewing women.
I did a ton of asking around for recommendations, shared a few emails, some phone consultations and finally decided on one woman who I was ready to meet. The first night we met her we both agreed we had found our doula. She’s younger than us- by about 10 years which feels a little weird- but she’s very sweet and knowledgeable. She loves being a doula so much that she enrolled in nursing classes so she could get more of a medical background when it comes to pregnancy, labor and birth. She has been present for over 100 births and we were both very comfortable with her. Plus she loved our dog (who left her covered in fur) so that was a huge plus in our book.
For those of you not familiar with a doula here are the “typical” services they provide:
Prior to birth:
- one or two in person meetings to review your birthing options and develop your birth plan
- provide educational materials
- provide phone, text and email support as needed
During Labor & Birth:
- stay with you for as long as needed if you decide to labor at home
- provide massage tools, birth balls, birthing tub, TENS unit, essential oils etc (some may be at an additional cost)
- coach you through labor
- massage, acupressure, ice chips, whatever you need (pretty much like a personal assistant)
- take notes on your labor and deliver
- provide the hospital with copies of your birth plan and make sure it is followed
- take pictures
- provide any and all types of support needed for the mommy and daddy
- facilitate skin to skin
- help with initial breastfeeding
- stay with you as long as needed
- have a post delivery meeting within 1-2 weeks of you coming home
- answer any questions and help with baby’s sleep and feeding schedule
- help with any breastfeeding issues
- recap your labor and delivery
- make sure you are feeling ok and not suffering from postpartum
I found in my research that the average cost of a doula ranges from $650 to $1,200. The doesn’t seem like much (at least to someone who needed to use donor eggs) considering the potential benefits you can receive.
The following is from the American Pregnancy Associate website-
Numerous studies have documented the benefits of having a doula present during labor. A recent Cochrane Review, Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth, showed a very high number of positive birth outcomes when a doula was present. With the support of a doula, women were less likely to have pain relief medications administered, less likely to have a cesarean birth, and reported having a more positive childbirth experience.
Other studies have shown that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40% and requests for an epidural by 60%.
You can find out more about doulas on their website- http://americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/havingadoula.html
I’m looking forward to writing a follow-up blog letting you know whether or not having a doula was money well spent.