We’ve already established in previous posts, that the road to a calm intimate birth is helped by eliminating all the excess people and/or distractions that can get in the way of you and your partner building a beautiful experience together. Then why would I now suggest that you add a perfect stranger to the mix? Why not just add a mother a sister or a friend as your support person?
If you are on the fence about hiring a doula or you don’t think it’s going to be worth the money, allow let me bring another perspective before making your final decision.
If we’re just talking about a doula to support labor(doulas support in pregnancy & after baby as well) I’m going to give you a few ideas to think about.
1) A doula is a “professional labor support” person. She didn’t just read a book and say, “I got this.” She knows what she’s doing, she has trained(and hopefully certified) with a professional doula organization. An experienced doula is three steps ahead of where you are in labor at any given moment and is anticipating what you will need next so she can guide you through it. She has the birth ball ready for you to sit down on, the water in hand so that you can take a drink, the cold wash rag for your neck because she sees the redness in your face increasing. That magic comes from her attending women in labor, birth after birth and gathering more skills with every hour spent. She brings you hands on experience that YouTube and reading a book, cannot replace.
2) A doula brings no personal baggage with you into your birth experience. By that I mean, if you give her a grimace or a glare – she attaches no story to that. She may perceive it as an uncomfortable contraction, gas or nausea. She doesn’t assume that that particular glare is condescending, rude or any type of insult. She doesn’t know that a glare means “I hate your guts”, “get out of my face”, and “I’m about ready to explode on you”, because she’s never had lifetime experiences with you that built a story to that look. Your doula comes in with fresh, kind eyes and loving support for your most uncomfortable moments. And if you do explode on her verbally, she doesn’t take it personally(I am also giving you permission to use the “F” word as much as you like during labor etc. I am convinced that God gives you a pass during these moments. If not, I will take the any punishment rendered on your behalf. You’re welcome).
3) A doula is also there a hundred percent for your partner and what they are going through as well. Labor is such an uncertain time if you’ve never been through it. This is also your partner’s birth experience with his or her baby. Expecting them to remember all the positions, comfort measures, tasks and responsibilities necessary to keep you home as long as possible, in your own environment, is a lot of pressure. They have never been through labor with a woman and may have never seen you uncomfortable or in any pain either. The idea that they need to fix something or make it better is going to cross their mind more than a thousand times. But birth is a natural process. It’s not something we fix it’s something we support and a doula can guide that pretty flawlessly.
I’ve heard many partners explain that the doula was their wingman and they’ve also described the doula as their doula not their wife’s doula! A doula also sees that you’re both eating, peeing and getting the rest that you need in order to make it through to the end. You’re only as good as your support people. And a partner that doesn’t eat or who is nervous about doing something wrong, is going to keep you, the laboring mother, in your head and lengthen labor.
4) So now that you were able to stay home longer, in your own environment, with that extra set of hands – it’s time to transfer to your birth place. And once in your birthing environment whether it be hospital, birth center or possibly the car, she is still on the lookout for “what’s next,” in a quiet centered way. Finding appropriate words to relay the information in a clear and peaceful way to you in the throws of labor, is so important. She can set the tone of the room with a whisper, dim the lights and keep everyone ‘mother focused’ in what could be, a chaotic situation. Extra guidance during the ebb and flow of labor, keeps an environment that’s calm and steady for your mind and body to flourish in no matter what location you’re in.
5) One of the essential parts about having this extra professional support, is that she offers continuous support. Your doula can translate any medical information that is too wordy, into simple phrases that you can hear, allowing you can make better choices in the moment. Your doula stays with you through shift changes. Your doula is the constant steady in the room in case your partner has to take a potty break or simply needs to sleep for 15 minutes in order to better support you for the next hour. Your doula also prepares your partner in case there is a variation in your birth plan you weren’t expecting.
Personally, I have stood with a partner when a mom was taken out of the room in preparation for a cesarean, explaining what was next, how best to support her and what they can expect from me on the other side of the surgery. Me knowing how to prepare the partner for the what ifs(ie: baby goes to the NICU, mom needs extra help with recovery from the kind of birth she had etc.), gives the partner an extra sense of security. Having help with last minute changes, knowing what’s coming next and also what resources is he/she may need to secure their family keeps your partner steady when you need them the most.
6) Your doula knows you personally and not as a staff member would- only seeing you for a few hours and then never again. She’s able to help you voice the needs that your particular family has that staff may not be aware of. While a doula never speaks for you, she can definitely help remind you and your partner of what you may need to advocate for or request, so that your birth team can better assist you in this “one-time” birth experience.
A doulas role is critical in creating continuity and flow with your birth team, naturally greasing the wheels of labor by anticipating what your needs will be and offering to be by your side through the thick of all of it. Well worth the money, well worth a payment plan, well worth the investment in this one time birth experience for your baby and your new family.