Has anyone had really good/ really bad or indifferent experiences with Doula's which they would be willing to share? My husband and I are hoping to have one this time around. I'm also unsure about how to pick one, is there some questions which you would for sure ask? Also when should I start contacting them? I know it's early but I'm not certain how they work with their clients when it comes to scheduling. I appreciate all of the impute!
Working with a Doula?
i had a doula at my first birth and 4 (yes, 4!!) at my last birth. i will be having at least 3 this time around. i should also state that i am a doula and work in that field and had a homebirth the last time. 4 friends/colleagues wanted to be there and since i was going to be home, i decided why not have all of them?!?! having a doula was great. it allowed my husband to just "be there" for me and not have to "take care" of me. it took a huge burden off of all of our shoulders. but, i will say, with all of my experiences working with couples, some have such an awesome dynamic together. i've never been in a situation where a doula wasn't useful or appreciated. you just have to find one fits you and your partner. don't be afraid to interview a whole bunch until you find that right fit.
I had one for my first and was very unhappy with it all in the end. For what I paid, I don't feel I got my $ worth. She was also my Bradley instructor as well. As "natural birth friendly" as I thought she was, in the end I ended up with an epi and way more intervention than we wanted. I KNOW in the end, those were all MY decisions but I was also told to go to the hospital way earlier than I think we should have and wasn't instructed as much as I would have liked to have been.
I did not have one for my second which ended up being a HB turned UC. It was fast and again, would have been a waste of time had I had one ;)
I think it is VERY important to know if they will come to your home and labor with you if you are having a hospital birth. I think that is when they would be most helpful and many of them (at least in this area) don't offer this service. You also need to be sure they will HB with you as some don't (I know the one I used for my first does NOT do HB's). Many HB midwives (again, in this area) will labor sit with you so if you are HBing you may not need one as much as you would for a hospital birth. Also, it's important to really have a good relationship with them! I am not talking you have to be buddies for life but I think it helps to have someone there who you are friendly with.
I've interviewed several through out the years, but never actually ended up using one. My mw was always great and she told me that for a HB, it's sort of her job to be there for me however I wanted her to be and a doula was unneccesary. With my first hb, there was just too many people there. Apparently I'm a private birther and the few people, the better I do. My first hb, I had the mw, her assistant, a friend to watch dd for us, my sister and my husband. Ended up that other people kept getting in the way and not really letting hubby be there for me, they wanted to be there for me. Which ended up that I felt distant from hubby and I really wanted him there for me emotionally and physically. My second hb, it was just hubby and mw. It was exactly as I'd wanted it to be. MW was only around when hubby wasn't there and he was there most of the time.
The births that I've attended as a support person, I've been there mostly to help the hubby be there for the wife. It's really important to me to not interfere in that and encourage it. This is THEIR baby and their big day! So, I try to stand back and be there for the wife, but mostly making suggestions to hubby and encouraging him. I'm still there, rubbing legs and back and such, but I'm not in their face and I'm letting the hubby get her water and give her sips, and putting chapstick on her dry lips, etc. All in all, I feel that if your significant other can be there and be the support person, then there is no need for a doula. If however, the husband would like some help, or the wife feels the husband could use some help in that area, then a doula might be helpful.
i'm considering a doula this time, but am still not sure. one thing you will probably find too, is that there are a lot of doulas who have done the training, but are not yet certified, so they will offer services for a lower fee. i've seen doulas in my area charging as little as $200, which is totally doable for me. i'm just not sure yet how many people i want there when i'm in labour. BF will be there, a friend of mine will most likely be there, and my mom may or may not be. a doula might be just a little too much. still deliberating :)
I had a doula with my first birth, and I hope we can have her back for this birth, too. My husband and I were both very glad to have her there. My extreme tightwad of a husband said that it was money well spent. Maybe you have to know him to understand how much that means!
I contacted her pretty early in my first pregnancy, maybe 12 weeks or so. As far as questions, I really didn't ask many! She is certified and had attended quite a few births. What sold me on her wasn't her credentials or professional experience, though. At the time, she had 7 of her own children, and I liked having someone with that personal experience. Her main goal was to make me comfortable during labor, not tell me how to birth or make decisions for me. Unfortunately, a lot of doulas forget that they are to support the mother's decisions and not impose their own beliefs. Most importantly, we clicked. Having someone with you during labor is very intimate and requires a lot of trust. If I were looking for a doula now, I would rather go with someone I felt comfortable with who maybe had less experience, than a more experienced doula who I didn't feel that connection to.
Start contacting them now. Their schedules can fill up many months ahead of time. Also, my doula does 3 prenatal visits, which are almost like mini childbirth classes, so if yours does too, you want to have enough time to schedule those visits.
nald1- I think it really depends on the midwife and what she/the practice offers and what the mom/family wants. Some midwives come over earlier and offer more labor support if needed while others are busier and generally come once active labor is established. Either way I think it can be helpful to have a doula for other reasons but not always necessary.
I agree with previous posters that one of the most essential components of interviewing a doula is just seeing if it is a good fit. When I was training to be a doula the trainer said that she would say this to her potential clients: Will you feel comfortable naked and moaning in front of me? Funny but true.
And while I think the click factor is of utmost importance I do value experience as well. Especially when it comes to hospital births. There is more dynamics at work and I believe an experienced doula is a true asset for getting the birth you desire. That said I think "green" doulas have a lot to offer.
Dont' always count on your midwife to be good labour support--but of course, if you know your midwife well enough, you will know if they would be a good doula as well. my last birth, i had a midwife, and didn't hire a doula because i assumed my midwife would be there with me. i was wrong--she was so hands-off, wouldn't stay with me at home, and i barely saw her in the hospital. she mostly watched the printout of the heartrate monitor, and really was no support at all. partly my fault for assuming, but she was also just a terrible midwife as far as i'm concerned. that's why i won't be seeing her this time!
I am in the process of interviewing doulas right now. I am 16 weeks. I had a hospital birth with my first and will with this one too. Our doula was so awesome and really needed for a hospital birth. She basically acted like a middle person between the hospital staff and my husband and I. The nurses would talk to her and she would talk to us. It helped so much because the way the nurses worded things and the way she worded them was totally different. Nurse would say: she needs to put this gown on. Doula would say: would you like to put this gown on or are you comfortable. I would say: I am fine and don't want to put the gown on. Nurse would leave! Or if I couldn't talk my husband would answer. All the doulas I have looked into are about $500 but they come and do in home visits to prepare for birth and go over birth plan. They have back up doulas in case of emergency and I check references! I interviewed my first this pregnancy yesterday...and it got me so excited about being pregnant and birthing another precious baby!
My doula was awesome! She was also my hypnobabies instructor.
I think you just have to find someone you click with and feel comfortable with, and ask LOTS of questions during the interview. Get references from past births if possible! Mine was worth every penny we paid her but I have also heard some bad stories about doulas who didn't really do anything unfortunately. You also have to be clear in what YOUR expectations are and what you want her to do.
I am not having one this time just mostly because we're using a birth center and we have to pay out of pocket which is really expensive. The midwife will be there the whole time though and probably another midwife or her assistant.
I did not have a doula for my first birth, but I did have a CNM that I've known for about 20 years (I grew up with her daughters). I had a lot of trust in her. My husband was a fantastic support being there for me physically and both my mom, who was there, and my midwife gave me words of encouragement at needed moments. I went in feeling like I had a dream team (not to mention the only OB I really felt comfortable with was on-call that night). That being said, I would not have changed my decisions, but there are things I will definitely do differently this time around.
This time around things are different. I've relocated and I don't know this CNM as well. She has a great reputation (which can be seen on other threads in these forums), but, for me, being so new to the area and with my mom not near by, I really feel like I want the extra support. The doula I hired is also a dear friend (she also did our childbirth ed classes for #1) who was willing to travel far outside her usual area for me. I certainly feel more at ease knowing she will be there along with my hubby. She and I have had long talks about doula work (I'm currently a peer breastfeeding counselor and hope to be going through postpartum doula training soon), birth, breastfeeding and babies in general.
I would suggest in your looking to find someone you feel naturally comfortable with who is going to support your decisions and will have a clear understanding of your hopes and expectations for the birth. Most doulas I'm aware of will provide a sort of get to know you meeting without a fee, so you can get a feel before you commit. Remember a doula is a professional labor assistant, they attend births regularly and may have more ideas in the moment that a friend or mom. (My mom told me moments after I gave birth that she would have asked for the drugs hours ago....)