To Doula or Not to Doula
After our second son was born I realized that my love for pregnancy and birth was so overwhelming that I just needed to find a way to be around it all the time. I had considered becoming a mid-wife but because I planned to home school my kids’ I knew that was pretty much out of the question for at least another 18 years. After some research online I found something called a “doula,” this was a new word to me. A doula, for those of you who may not know, is an assistant who provides support to the laboring woman. Unlike a midwife or a doctor, a doula is not considered to be a medical professional; they are there to provide emotional and physical support to the mother. Even with a doula present you will still need a doctor or midwife to deliver your baby.
Benefits of Having a Doula
Having a doula at your birth can benefit you and your partner in many ways. You are much more likely to be calm and in control of your labor. Studies have shown that labors with a doula present are shorter by 25%. The rates of c-sections at a birth with a doula are reduced by 50%, as is the use of an epidural. I have attended births where women tell me “I am going to have a doula but I know that I am getting an epidural, I just can’t handle pain at all!” but they end up figuring out that they can handle it and they have their babies completely drug free without a second thought.
Consider Your Own Feelings
A doula is similar to a loving motherly figure that has been through this whole “labor thing” many times and has done lots of research on the best ways to handle it. During your labor your doula will tell you different positions that you can try in order to make yourself more comfortable, she will walk with you, get things for you, talk to you about what is going on with your body, and generally soothe you and your partner. She really will help you to feel more comfortable, which is vital to having a progressing labor. If you are nervous and worried your body will not do what it was designed to do because fear causes tension which can slow or stop things from progressing.
Does a Doula Replace Your Birth Partner?
Many people wonder if having a doula present will affect the spouse's roll in the delivery of your baby, and I am here to tell you that it won’t affect it in a negative way. A doula will simply give suggestions to your partner about how he/she can support you best at any given time. The atmosphere is more relaxed for the partner when someone is there to “take the pressure” off of them to be perfect and know what you need; this way they can relax a bit and enjoy the labor and birth process too. The nice thing is that they won’t have to feel guilty about needing to run to the restroom or running to get a little snack after hours of not eating because they know that they are leaving you in completely capable hands and you will feel better about them leaving for a minute too!
If you have been considering having a doula at your birth now is the time to research it and look up the statistics on having a doula vs. not having one. You can interview local doulas and ask them any questions that you might have on your mind and you can find someone who makes you feel safe, cared for, and comfortable. You can find some other tips for choosing a doula that may help you to make your final decision.
Have you had a doula at your birth? How did it go? Do you wish you had one or are you thinking of having one? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!