Hiring a doula for my hospital birth was one of the best decisions my husband and I made.
When my husband and I first found out we were expecting, we did a TON of research about birth. I wanted a natural birth, and I knew that home birth wasn’t quite for me. I am the type of person who would probably be in full blown labor and be cleaning my house, panicking that the place wasn’t all cleaned up and playing hostess while a midwife tried to get me to focus on the birth. So I was thinking we would probably end up in a birthing center. My husband was totally supportive of natural childbirth, but he wanted it to be in the hospital. For him, the hospital was a safe place in case something went wrong.
We decided we could make that work. We listened to lots of birth stories of local moms; I wanted to know exactly what to expect at the different hospitals. We decided on Valley Hospital in Spokane Valley because we had heard that the doctors on their staff were very supportive of natural childbirth, and because their rates for c-sections and episiotomies was super low. But when we went to do the hospital tour, I felt myself panic. Hospitals have always been where my family members had gone when they were sick or dying, and just stepping through the front door had me on the verge of a panic attack. The mother/baby unit had a much more welcoming feeling, but I still felt like I was in a hospital. I knew that if I was going to make it work, I would have to find a way to make the hospital environment a lot less “sterile” and much more comfortable.
That’s when we started researching doulas. A doula is NOT a midwife. They don’t deliver the baby, they don’t perform exams, but they do have a lot of knowledge and experience with birth, and they are able to help moms and dads feel more in charge of their birth.
My hubby was a bit skeptical at first, but after the birth was over he was raving about doulas and reassured me that if we had another baby, I could definitely hire a doula again. Here’s a few reasons why we loved our doula:
1) Most doula services start LONG before labor. When it came to my first pregnancy, I was a nervous nancy. I didn’t really know what to expect and my relationship with the doctors at my OB office was very formal. So when my doula told me that I could text her if I had any questions throughout my pregnancy, no matter what time, I took advantage of it. She was always kind and quick to respond, and quelled any fears that I had. This made pregnancy much less scary for me. It also meant that by the time I went in to labor, we had already developed a sense of trust.
She also was a major help to us when it came to making our birth plan and hospital packing list. She asked us questions we had never even thought about before, and she had great suggestions for our hospital list.
2) Doulas start helping when labor begins, not when it gets “serious”. Because of my doula, I was able to labor at home for a long time. I didn’t realize that I was in labor, and it was my doula who helped me figure out that I was. She came to our house, and since she knew I was anxious and unable to rest she had us go on brisk walks and do some crazy stair stepping exercises to help gravity do it’s thing. Because of her, I got to labor at home, where I felt most comfortable, longer. Without her, I might have either rushed straight to the hospital or I would have waited until it was too late. She literally slept on our couch the night before our daughter was born, just in case my labor started to progress more quickly.
3) Doulas provide constant support, unlike nurses who have multiple patients to attend to. When it was finally time to go to the hospital, all the rooms were FULL and so they put us in the classroom. The nurses were trying to attend to all the patients, so they didn’t have the time to read my birth plan or really help me through the back labor I was experiencing. My doula was able to help coach me through moving around and getting into different positions to help make labor easier.
4) Doulas don’t make decisions for you, but they can help explain your options. Sometimes doctors and nurses don’t always take the time to fully explain your options. When you’re in labor, it’s easy to just go with what the doctor or nurses suggest, without even recognizing that you may have other options. A doula will remind you to take time to make decisions, and she will help explain different options in more detail.
5) Doulas empower husbands or other birth partners. My doula taught my husband to do counter pressure on my back. When I needed to stand up and get gravity working for me, she had my husband turn on the first dance song from our wedding and slow dance with me. Also, when my daughter was born, she had trouble breathing and had to be placed under an oxygen tent and moved to another room before the placenta had come. Because my doula was able to stay with me, my husband was able to go with our daughter so that she wouldn’t be alone. He knew that I was in good hands and he didn’t have to feel guilty about leaving me alone. I was able to be calmer because I knew that my daughter wasn’t alone. Basically, our doula made my husband seem like a rock star.
6) Doulas do all the little things you just don’t have time for. Especially during labor, it’s hard to remember all the things that you planned for you birth. My doula was the one to grab a newspaper from the day our daughter was born. She was the one to take the pictures that we were too busy to take because we were so enthralled with our brand new baby, like this one.
7) Doulas can be great resources even AFTER birth. Many doulas do at least one home visit after the baby is born. At that point they might ask you questions so you can “debrief” about your birth, and they will ask questions about how postpartum is going. If you need any extra help with breastfeeding or just with a new baby, they can make referrals to postpartum doulas or lactation specialists to help.
This is not a sponsored post, I just think that doulas are amazing and can have a great impact on how a woman’s birthing experience. I highly recommend that before you hire a doula, you interview them and make sure you are on the same page about what kind of birth support you want. There are MANY doulas in our area, so make sure to interview a couple before choosing one that is the best for you!