Three months ago, I wasn’t totally sure you what a doula or midwife actually did. I knew they worked with pregnant women, but what exactly did they do? Couldn’t tell you.
Then one day while laying on the table at my prenatal chiropractor’s office, he started asking me about my birth plan. He asked if I was delivering at home or in a hospital (answer: hospital), if I working with a midwife or doctor (answer: doctor) and whether or not I’m working with a doula. “Can you tell me a little bit more about a doula and why I should consider one?,” I asked.
He explained it pretty simply, “The word doula comes from the Greek term “women’s helper” and that’s her role during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Doctors check in with you while you’re in labor but they don’t stay with you; they come to do their job when it’s time to push. Labor is the hard, long part, and if you want someone there with you, someone you know can help coach you and guide you through the experience, that’s where a doula would come in. Nurses do this too, of course, but they’re total strangers to you and will have other patients at the same time. A doula also works with you months before the labor and throughout your pregnancy offering physical and emotional support along with education. They provide you with the same information birth classes do but in a private setting tailored to your birthing wishes. They help you devise a birth plan and teach your husband how to be a helpful birthing coach/partner.”
This sounded interesting to me. I hadn’t contemplated the hard part of laboring at home nor did I think about when the doctor actually shows up. As a first time mom, could I get through this without a doula? Absolutely. I believe that our bodies are meant to do this, but do I want more emotional support through this journey? Would it be helpful to have someone who can educate us along the way as tons of questions arise (my doctor’s office hold time for basic questions is embarrassing – anyone else?)? Is there a benefit to having someone with me, other than my husband, who has never done this before either, while I labor at home until I’m 6 or 7 cm dilated? Is it helpful to have one more person to bounce ideas off of as critical decisions may arise? And is it helpful to have an advocate in the hospital room who can speak to our wishes during highly celebratory moments that coincide with crucial decisions for the baby (for example, Vitamin K shots, hepatitis B, ointment in the baby’s eyes, etc.)?
These are the questions I’ve been asking myself while trying to decide if a doula was right for me. And to help make the decisions, I met with quite a few doula’s and solicited advice from everyone – Instagram poll included. The poll resulted in 54% of the responses saying a doula is critical and 46% saying skip it. I also got several messages from women sharing their doula stories saying how grateful they were to have had one while many others said they were perfectly fine without it.
After a lot of deliberation, I’ve decided that for me, it is important. I have found someone that I really connect with, someone who makes me feel calm and understands/respects my intended birth plan. I’m looking forward to working with her as we navigate this uncharted territory, and between her, my husband and my doctor, feel at ease knowing that I have a solid team of support to get me to the finish line. Will I need a doula for future births? That, I’ll keep you posted on!
What about you? Did you or are you working with a doula? What are your thoughts?