Happy World Doula Week! What does a Birth Doula do, and why do you need one?
It’s just one more expense, right? Wrong.
Doulas provide continuous support to a laboring and birthing mother. There are lots of reasons to hire one (beyond the fact that studies support the idea that birth outcomes are better with doulas). Our very first reason? Your very own mother. Read on...
- Your Mom: Your mom (bless her heart) is absolutely not going to keep her cool as promised. She is going to hover over you like a helicopter. A helicopter with a first-time pilot. Seriously, when my contractions were three minutes apart at home, I had to remind my own mother to breathe. Unless your mama has a track record of attending births with great aplomb, give her a job that doesn’t include supporting your labor. Like organizing your pantry.
- Counter Pressure Master: Chances are, nobody else in the room is a counter pressure expert. Let’s be real, your husband either “skimmed” or didn’t read those parts of the birth books. Your doula will know when and where to apply just the right amount of pressure to help you.
- Mood Matcher: Your doula will match the mood of the room. If things are serious, she will be stone-cold-sober-faced and support you emotionally. If, however, you need to laugh between contractions because you’re pretty sure the guy who did that godawful cervical check on you was younger than Doogie Howser, M.D., she will laugh with you and keep things light when you need them to be.
- Masseuse: This requires no explanation, but lots of doulas are trained in the art of massage. And this is the kind of doula you want to hire. If you’re going without drugs, she will help you escape reality for a minute with the right touch at the right time. If you’re planning for an epidural, she will massage your feet and legs to make sure your circulation stays in tact.
- Snacks and So On: If you have a longer labor, your husband/ partner/ birthing team is going to need to pee/ eat/ caffeinate. If you don’t permit him to do these things, then he may fall asleep. And if he falls asleep, you may hate him for a little while. (You may already hate him at that moment, because of how little is required of him to bring a baby into the world.) You don’t want to hate him more, right? So get a doula.
- Your Husband/ Partner: For most Dads, having a dedicated partner in the birthing process is huge. He will be relieved that there’s someone else present whose job it is to meet your needs. He will be relieved that (even if he did read the birthing books), there’s someone to guide him in helping you. The doula is there partially to help your husband help you.
- Creating Your Preferences: An experienced doula is well versed in the local hospital and home birth rules and regulations. She will save you some time (and Googling) while you’re pregnant. (Use that time wisely and sleep. Since once the baby arrives, you may never sleep again.)
- Working Through Your Preferences: When a hospital staffer asks you a question mid-contraction, your doula will politely step in and suggest you need a minute. When a doctor is teeing you up for a big decision on the spot that could change the course of your labor and birth, a doula will assist you in taking the time you need. A good doula knows when to step in and step out of the conversation.
- Dedication: Every other professional in the room has somewhere else to be. The midwives and doctors are fielding other patients. The nurses are up to their ears in work to be done. Your doula is there for you. That’s it. That’s all.
- Sisterhood: As much as your husband/partner in crime is in your corner (and he is!) you are going to need to find some sisterhood in that room. For eons, women have birthed with the support of other women. Somehow, reassurance from a strong, feminine presence in the room can be worth more than the most well-intentioned help from a dude. Just trust me on this one.
There you have it! My Top 10 Reasons to hire a doula. So tell your over-anxious mom that if she really wants to help you in labor, she can make the check out to D-O-U-L-A.