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birth companions: how do I decide?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi moms!


I am trying to figure out exactly who I want with me and DH during labor.


DH and I are planning a natural birth at a birth center.  There are 6 midwives, and we meet them all in the course of our prenatal visits.  My birth center is set up so that we get whichever midwife is on call when I go into labor.  So far, I like most of the midwives - I'm lukewarm about a couple of them, and I flat out don't like one, but there have been 2 others I've absolutely loved.


I'm conflicted re: hiring a doula or not.  Here's what I'm thinking:  This will be my first baby.  I have never been through labor before, I am a HIGHLY emotionally-charged woman, and I can get overwhelmed by discomfort or pain or big feelings.  I also keep thinking about the chance of ending up with a midwife I'm not 100% comfortable with, or worse, with the one I don't like.  There's also the chance that I won't be the only woman in labor at that time, and that the midwife's attention will need to be split 2 or even 3 ways (although I'm pretty sure there will be more than one midwife on call, I have heard a couple women discuss the fact that they had to share their midwife with another woman in labor at the same time).  I am also NOT a very private person, and I love having women/female energy around me, so having more people in the delivery room is not an issue... and might even be desirable for me.


On the flip side: Hiring a doula is not exactly in our budget.  We chose this particular birth center because the costs are covered 100% by my insurance.  The cost thing is a very big issue - we spend very rarely and very carefully, and any extra money spent is a very big deal for us.  We are saving to buy a house, etc., and this is a huge consideration.  Furthermore, my DH is extremely adept at handling and balancing out my emotions.  He is an incredible support, is a master at staying calm when I'm losing my mind, and ALWAYS knows exactly what to say to me when I'm anything from mildly upset to downright hysterical.  But, obviously, he has no experience being with women in labor.


Finally, I don't want to turn this situation into total overkill.  I'm a big believer in the power of positive thought, and I think that I can have the labor and birth I want with "just" my DH and a midwife.  But... I don't want to reject the idea of a doula if it can be the difference between a negative and a positive experience for me.


Thoughts??? How did you ladies decide? And for those of you who have given birth before, what was your experience?

post #2 of 7

I birthed my first at a birth center that sounds very much like yours.  There were 5 mw's- one I hated and several I hadn't even met before going into labor.  Of course I got one of those.  But what everyone had told me prior to the birth was that somehow you get the mw that was right for you.  I think more realistically what tends to happen is that you sort of fall in love with the mw that is helping you in that very intense moment.  Also at a birth center you will have a nurse who is helping.  My experience was that the nurse was with me a lot more than the mw even though I was the only one in labor at the center at the time.  So the nurse sort of acted like a doula for me.  Other than the mw, nurse, and dh, we were alone and I loved it that way.  But I am more private and would prefer to be pretty much alone during intense moments.  I had invited my sister to be there who was a doula and going to be a mw, but she didn't fly down in enough time since I went 8 days early.  Really I never felt like I missed having her there.  She helped out during the pp period and that was nice.


As for your dh, one of the things that has always concerned me about Bradley is that it puts quite a bit of responsibility on the dh/dp as the coach.  Now, some guys can totally fill that role and it's awesome.  But there are other guys that cannot and sometimes you don't know until that moment that they simply cannot.  Partners will go through their own cycles of emotion during the birth and there may be times where they are not capable of being the support you need.  Or that may not be true at all and they always manage to do what is needed in the moment.  I was concerned about my dh, but just trusted that it would work out.  He has had some issues with blood and pain in the past, nearly fainting and actually throwing up when I was getting my bandages replaced on my severed index finger.   So I wasn't sure what would happen with birth.  But he was amazing.  Both times.  Totally there for me.  It sounds like your dh is great at being there for you, too.


Now if you do decide that hiring a doula is the right thing for you, there are options. Many doulas have payment plan options, some might barter, and there are always student doulas that do births for free for their training.  You can email DONA and ask for a list of student doulas in your area.  You can also ask around in local parenting groups for recommendations (Yahoo Groups, LLL, API, etc.). 


Did you get a chance to read the Holistic Stages of Labor article I posted a while back?  I found it really powerful and super helpful in focusing my desires for the birth. 

post #3 of 7

I have not had a baby at the birth center. I thought about hiring a doula as well. The number one red light that comes on while reading your post is "if it will fit the budget". Personally, I would look at the after math. If you found a way that you could afford it,Would the $ you use for the doula take away for the $ you will need to have saved while on leave? Does the funds need to go toward something for the baby? You probably have plenty of time to decide and look at things and rearrange some things.I am really hoping the best for you and your 1st baby. To me, my first was a wonderful experience. I am hoping this one will be too. Sending good engery to you.

post #4 of 7

Katie, I think you and I are a lot alike based on some of the other posts of yours.  We're veg and live in Portland, and I resonate with a lot of what you're saying.

If you are near Portland, I know a free doula as well as a certified doula.  The free doula just needs 4 birth experiences before she is certified, I believe she has completed everything else.  I can give you the info if you're interested.  I'd highly, highly recommend having a doula- I didn't have one for my first birth but wish I had.  I don't need one this time though because we are birthing at a birth center (alma in portland- is yours attached to a hospital?  If not, you won't have a nurse to help but you probably know based on your center who will be present).  Our BC has one midwife and two assistants attend the birth, and we meet with them for every prenatal visit so we know them all really well.

I think it's so important in birth to keep out whoever will impede your progress.  You may not know until that moment what you need though.  Perhaps you could ask a few friends or family- whoever you think would have the best energy and be able to be silent if need be- to be "on call" for your birth?  Then you could have someone- DH or MW or assistant or doula- call someone in if you feel like you want to invite them.  Once you're in labor you'll know better what you need than if you tried to cement something beforehand, at least that's my philosophy having gone through it once before.  I think it's good to be prepared, but impossible to know what your experience will be like.  When I was birthing I was 12 hours in and decided to call one of my friends for a pep talk over the phone.  So making decisions like that is totally possible in the heat of labor.  


Good luck with whatever you decide!  

post #5 of 7

also, if you haven't read any of Ina May Gaskin's books, I would highly recommend them.  She talks a lot about how people in the room affect the mood and progress of the labor.  It was really helpful for me this time around!

post #6 of 7

I don't have any advice on whether or not you should have a doula - I'm going through the same thing myself! :)

I'm planning a homebirth and will have my midwife and her assistant (who I know very well), but my husband won't be present for labor support. I really want a friend of mine to doula for me, but she will be gone from November 2nd to the 15th and baby is due around the 10th, so it may not work out. I'm talking to another doula friend about being there for me, in her place, or in addition to her if she's in town. I just don't know if I'm going to feel very private and not want people around or if I'm going to want a lot of support. I also would feel kind of bad lining all these people up and then not calling them once I'm in labor... it takes a lot to be on-call for someone and constantly have to think about where you're going or who can watch your kids if you get called out to a birth.


I do second looking into new and certifying doulas. Often times their fees are much reduced from the more seasoned doulas, but they're just as enthusiastic and caring, which I think is most important. Good luck!

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

jbk - we live in Eugene, but are moving to Portland some time in the next 6 months or so!  Would a doula be willing to come all the way to Eugene?  I don't think that sounds very realistic...  But I'm going to keep looking around here.  And yes, I've read lots of Ina May, she's totally my hero :)


And to everyone: thanks so much for all your feedback.  It's incredible how much there is to read, learn, think about, plan... this baby and his or her birth is all I ever think about!

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