Having a doula would’ve been totally worth it for me.
I’ve had two babies now. Both of them were hospital births. I actually had a doula for my first birth, but then wound up having to have a C-section. I didn’t really get to experience the full benefit of having a doula support me through labor.
With my second baby I wasn’t able to find a doula that was available, and that’s my biggest regret about that birth. I’ve never been good at standing up for myself in normal situations, so making my wishes clear to a doctor who is far more educated than I while in the throes of labor pains didn’t exactly go well. While I had my husband and mom there (who were amazing!) I know I could’ve benefited from having an experienced doula with me to help me advocate for myself. I’m confident I would’ve had a better birth experience if I’d had the support of a doula.
Maybe you’re reading this and you don’t even know what a doula is! If that’s the case for you, read on to find out what a doula does and some of the benefits of having a doula at your birth!
What is a doula?
A doula is a labor support professional.A doula doesn’t provide any medical help – she won’t be checking your cervix or pulling out a doppler to listen to your baby’s heartbeat. Her main role is to support you during labor and guide you through the process of pregnancy, labor and delivery. Some doulas also provide postpartum care after you arrive home.
What does a doula do that makes her worth it?
A doula provides education, emotional and physical support for women throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Usually a doula will meet with you once or twice during pregnancy to help you develop a birth plan, educate you about labor coping techniques, and also get to know you better so that you’re more comfortable with her during labor.Most doulas also make themselves available any time by phone if you have questions or need to talk to someone.
Your doula will be on call as your due date gets closer, and will come to you as soon as you let her know that you’re in labor. She’ll be there with you for your whole labor from beginning to end, which is a lot more than can be said of doctors and nurses.
A doula will typically hang out with you for an hour or two after birth, and she might come by to check in with you once you get home from the hospital. If you’ve hired her as a postpartum doula as well, she will help with baby care, light housekeeping, and may even stay overnight.
She’s basically a fairy godmother.
What are the benefits of having a doula?
There are so many potential benefits to having a doula! There is evidence that having a doula can reduce the risk of C-section by 50 percent, reduce the need for epidurals by 60 percent, and create a much more positive birth experience.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology says that doulas have a statistically significant impact in reducing the number of Cesarean deliveries. And they’re like the ultimate birth experts, so you should give them a listen.
If you’ve had a hospital birth in the past, it’s possible that, like me, you didn’t have an entirely positive experience. Maybe the doctor performed interventions that you weren’t comfortable with without your permission or you weren’t allowed to labor the way that you wanted to. That was definitely the case for me. A doula empowers you to navigate the challenges of delivering of baby in the hospital. She won’t talk to the doctors for you, but she’ll guide you and give you the information that you need to advocate for yourself.
What’s the difference between a doula and a midwife?
Unlike a doula, who is a non-medical support person, a midwife is a medical provider. When you find out you’re expecting, you can choose to have either a midwife or a doctor provide your prenatal care.
A midwife can do nearly anything a doctor can do for you throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Midwives don’t just attend births either: some women choose to see a midwife for all of their gynecological care!
Doulas, on the other hand,”are a support and comfort resource we do not deliver babies. I choose to call myself a compassionate companion and believe every pregnancy deserves a happy ending. Doulas provide resources and advocate for their clients and will work alongside a midwife for support of the mother and family.” – Caroline of Bella Vita Doula
It’s definitely worth it to have a doula regardless of whether you choose to have a midwife or a doctor oversee your prenatal care!
Do I really need a doula? My mom/sister/husband will be there with me.
The short answer is: yes! Totally worth it!
My mom and husband were with me all throughout my birth. They were fabulous and I never would’ve made it through birth without pain meds if I hadn’t had them by my side.
But neither one of them had ever supported someone through birth before. Birth can be complicated and there’s a lot to know about it. A doula’s experience and specialized training goes a long way in helping a new mom have a positive birth.
A doula doesn’t replace your mom or your husband. She is there to support you, but part of her job is also to support your support people.
Here’s what birth professional, Jen, has to say about the need for a doula:
“A doula is specially trained to understand the physiology of birth. She has expertise in a variety of support strategies and a solid grounding in the latest evidence-based practice. She is actually a support for your partner or mom as well as for you and can help your family feel more confident and comfortable in their part of the birth team.”
If that doesn’t convince you to get a doula, I don’t know what will!
How much does a doula cost?
Unfortunately, doula services aren’t typically covered by insurance (although I think they totally should be). You can find doulas at a wide variety of price points based on location and level of experience. I’ve seen brand new doulas charge as little as $400, whereas you might wind up paying $1000 or more for a doula who is experienced and in high demand. But even the most expensive doulas are a bargain when you consider that hospitals charge thousands and thousands of dollars for an epidural.
A good doula is worth whatever she charges and more!
Many doulas also offer a variety of options for their services that you can pick and choose from, so be sure to ask a potential doula about the packages she has available! You’ll pay less for a doula to just show up when you go into labor, more if you want extra support from her before and/or after birth.
If you are on a low income, there are doulas who volunteer their services from time to time, so be sure to check into that!
What are some things to consider before choosing a doula?
Choosing a doula to attend your birth is a big deal. You’re inviting someone to be present with your for one of the biggest and most vulnerable experiences of your life. Here’s what some doulas that I know had to say about choosing a doula:
“[Consider your] connection and comfort level with [your] chosen doula. To find someone who will provide resources, be a companionate companion and help advocate for you and your choices in birth.” – Caroline
“Find someone that aligns with your families beliefs and that you feel like you could share anything with them and not be judged.” – Birth, Baby and Beyond
Choose a doula that you feel comfortable with! When you’re done with your interview with your doula, you should walk away feeling like you just made a great friend. A doula that you don’t feel comfortable with attending your birth isn’t going to be as helpful to you throughout labor and delivery.
You may also want to ask her if she has a backup doula in case she can’t make it to your birth for some reason. See if you can arrange to meet the backup doula, too!
Every expecting mom should have a doula
I really encourage you to try to get a doula to attend your birth! There are so many benefits to having a doula. She can provide much-needed support in a time and place where women are often left feeling unheard, vulnerable, and alone.As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Melinda worked with children for years in a professional setting before becoming a full-time stay at home mom. She currently has three young children, and enjoys sharing tips and ideas about parenting and how to manage a home with excellence. She’s been featured on Heathline and Her View From Home.