My friend says she will use her doula again, because the lady was so emotionally supportive, but my desire is primarily for a better physical experience. Naturally, I want the baby and me to both live and be healthy, but aside from that, I want to come out of labor with an undamaged perineum. I will do almost anything to create this outcome, including hiring a doula even though my insurance doesn't cover it. Heck, I've even considered an elective C-section to avoid an episiotomy; I'm that serious about it. At seven weeks along, my options are still very much open.
If you had a doula in the past, what was the experience like, and will you use a doula again? Do you feel you had a better physical outcome (avoiding tears or episiotomy) thanks to the doula, or did you "just" feel emotional supported? (I put "just" in quotes because it may not seem so mere to some people, but it kind of does to me. My husband is nice and supportive enough for me, and I will feel emotionally better the next day if I am not severely wounded.) What can a doula do to help with the physical outcome? Can she give a perineal massage, or give expert coaching that helps to avoid tears, and if so, is this more than a midwife could do? (If I give birth at the birth center I am leaning towards, I will already have a midwife there.)
Thanks for sharing your experiences. (I thought about popping over to the "birth professionals" board to ask this, but I was afraid that was only for the professionals to talk amongst themselves.)