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Is a Doula worth it?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 



I am currently pregnant with baby number 4 and have never used a Doula.

This was largely because I got epidurals and thought Doulas were only for natural births, but anyway

I am planning on giving birth at a birthing center this time around and going natural of course

so I am debating hiring a doula.


My main concerns are 1)My husband is not sold on the idea at all and was honestly offended that

I didn't think he was enough support in the delivery room (his words). It really isn't that, I just think female support is important,

especially from someone who has supported women through births professionally.


2) I am worried a doula won't be worth the money and totally unnecessary.

Please explain to me what a doula does really. Is she like a friend and helps you make choices or plan things during your pregnancy? Does she just show up at your birth and coach you through it? Does she leave right after the birth? Does she visit you at home and help out there?

Would my midwife be sufficient? With past pregnancies I had midwives but they were unable to remain in the hospital room with me

and weren't much support or comfort, but would a birthing center midwife be able to do so and make a doula unnecessary?


Thanks for any advice!

post #2 of 17

A doula isn't there to replace your husband.  He shouldn't feel threatened by an experienced woman being in the room, she can support him too.  Doulas can have as great or as little of a role as you want them to have.


I had both of my children in a free standing birth center with midwives, but had different experiences that have shaped my views of labor support.


I had never heard of a doula with my first birth, but have since come to believe my midwife also served the role of a doula.  She was with me throughout labor and seemed to just know what I needed without me needing to ask.  She encouraged me verbally and suggested position changes that helped me deal with each part of labor.  My husband was there too, of course, but he lacked the knowledge and experience to support me in the same way as the midwife.  The birth went very smoothly and I was happy with the level of support I had.  I assumed all midwives practiced the same way.


But my second birth turned out very differently.  The midwives on call changed shift during my labor, and his birth ended up being precipitous anyway.  I labored for only 2 hours start to finish, and I did fine I guess, but it was lonely because neither midwife I had was really there.  They were in and out of the room, and I didn't really feel supported.  No one thought labor was progressing as quickly as it was, and the second midwife came in the room right when he was crowning.  Despite being in a facility, his birth was almost unattended!


These vastly different experiences have led me to believe I would have felt better with a doula for my second birth.  I didn't realize until it was over how much I really needed the emotional support of another woman who would be there just for me, not just to catch the baby in the end.  You never know how it will be, and a doula will be there to fulfill whatever role you need her to.

post #3 of 17

First of all a doula is worth every penny. I had a doula and she was the best thing ever. She did come to my home several times in my pregnancy to go over my wishes. She was there in labor from the time I asked her to be until about 2 hours after. She helped with breastfeeding and she even showed up as a surprise about 6 hours after the birth to check on me. She also came over to my house several times after the birth to talk about the birth and help some more with breastfeeding. My husband did not want a doula and he most certainly did not want to spend money on a doula but in the end he said he was very happy that she was there and that he would pay her over and over again for her services. I think men who have seen a medicated birth think that they can handle it and don't get why you would need the support. Trust me a female support in natural labor is good for you and your partner. If nothing else she can tell him everything is okay, its normal and show him how to support you. My doula also snapped some amazing pictures in labor of my husband and I that I would not have if hubby was behind the camera. I wish you the best and hope you get to experience the birth you envision. Our bodies are amazing!

post #4 of 17

Each doula is different.........and if you hire one, have everything spelled out........things like what she does before birth, during and after....what happens if you end up with a C section, does her fee stay the same, etc......Your best bet is to ask your midiwife which doulas she has worked with in the past.......and then look up some names on DONA.org...doulas of north america............

post #5 of 17

All the midwives I know recommend doulas. Midwives are clinicians. Midwives are not doulas. Of course midwives are absolutely fantastic, but it is important to know that they have clinical responsibilities. And in the birth center, midwives will have other clients, and charting to do. That means the midwife will more than likely not be available the whole time that you are birthing.

post #6 of 17

I think they absolutely are worth it! I did not have one when I tried to do an unmedicated birth in the hospital, and I really wish I would have had one and think it would have made a huge difference.

My husband was great, but I needed more than that, and he really didn't know what the hell to do and was too emotionally invested. A doula wouldn't replace him by any means, but would be there to give him some direction and suggestions. You can lean on your husband while a doula rubs your back, doing conter-pressure can be exhausting and would be much easier for 2 people than for one. Your husband will probably need breaks to eat and use the restroom, and I hated being left alone and I would start to panic. There are studies on having doulas and they make a huge difference (much lower c-section rate, faster labors) and actually seem to get the husbands more involved. 


And what you want from your doula is totally up to you, they are there to be supportive and that's all. They shouldn't help you make choices, but they should help give you the information to make the best choice for you and then be supportive of what you decide. And I wouldn't explain what they do as "coaching", but again it is more support. Bring you water and ice chips, wipe your face with a rag, give you a hand to grip and another person to lean on, someone to help remind you to breathe, they are trained in many different relaxation/visualisation techniques.


When you are in labor the doula will come as soon as you want her to - it might be too early for the midwife to show up, but a doula can come to your home and help keep you distracted and relaxed in early labor. Even in birthing centers I believe midwives often have more than  one client so they may not be able to spend much time with you. Even if they can, their job is to look out for the health and safety and you and your baby, where all a doula is there to do is reassure you and help you in any way they can. I believe they usually stay about 2 hours after the birth, and usually they will come to visit the next day as well. Though you can also get post-partum doulas to help you around the house or with the baby or really, anything you could want or need as far as support. 




post #7 of 17

I have to say yes, and not just because I am one.  :) 


My mom had three great natural births and had never even heard of a doula before I became one, so it's not like you can't have a natural birth without a doula.  Not at all.  Plenty of people do it, and doulas are not just for natural births (half of my clients have done natural, and half have gotten epidurals).


But as a mom myself, I can say that my doula was, if not "necessary," SUPER helpful.  Could I have done it without her?  Sure, probably.  Am I glad she was there?  Absolutely.  And so was my husband.


The midwife is basically a doctor, in terms of her role at the birth - she's not going to be able to provide what a doula provides, which is continuous, personalized emotional support/snacks/foot massages/listening.  Yes, your husband can and will also provide this, but unless your labor is super short and easy (which you can't predict), it can't hurt to have an extra pair of hands.


As you know, an epidural birth looks/feels different from an unmedicated birth, and when things get really active and intense, it's wonderful to have a very calm, experienced woman in the room with both of you. 


I like these posts by pro-doula dads: http://mamasandbabies.blogspot.com/2010/08/fathers-perspective-on-doulas.html    and    http://betterbirthdoula.org/?p=1356.


My husband WAS my primary support person, but he needed breaks and emotional support for himself, and that's where our doula came in.  Good luck with everything!



post #8 of 17

One thing to realize is that a Doula is very schooled in the knowledge of Childbirth - labor, all its phases and stages, its nuances.  Also all the terms and measurements the Doctors will be using to decide how ready you are for labor, such as your Bishop's Score, which includes the station of the baby in the pelvis, the situation of the cervix, it's effacement, & dilation and what all that means in concert.  She knows what labor positions to use when, to help keep labor moving forward, to help keep the baby in an optimal position, to alleviate some of the pain you're feeling in labor as well as to help keep the stress off of the baby.  It's nothing against the husband.  He is there for intimately personal emotional support.  That can never be replaced!  ;)  


A Doula also knows many tips and tricks to use to help keep you focused away from the pain and stay informed and educated fully on what is actually going on so that you can truly make informed decisions when you need to at a critically emotional time.  Doulas can also help you form a list of Birth Goals, or what is usually called a Birth Plan.  She can help you find a way to put together a polite and compact list that seems non-invasive to the Doctor/Midwife & Hospital Nursing Staff but still serves your needs as well.  She can also help you become more of an informed advocate for yourself, by teaching you how to talk to your Doctor/Midwife about things that you're concerned about or may disagree with in an assertive but diplomatic way.


Doula's Support both of you emotionally, educationally, physically, and mentally!  They do not give medical advice or do anything clinical, like exams or blood pressure.  And they support you in whatever decisions you make.  It is your birth.  They are there to educate and inform on all the risks and benefits, which unfortunately you sometimes do not get the full picture from Doctors-for many reasons....  That is not to say that they are a bad Doctor!  No!  But they do not train in "Normal, unmedicalized births."  Things like not rushing to induce unless there is eminent danger, because it can often lead to a C-section.  And many other things she can help educate you on so that you can fully weigh the pros and cons yourself before things get emotional.


And the more prepared you are, the less anxiety and fear will be present.  Fear and Anxiety together are the top causes of long labors.  The more relaxed and calm you can stay, the more likely your labor will move more smoothly.  True no one knows exactly what will happen during labor.  But the deck will be stacked in your favor with a Doula, leaving your husband to focus solely on you and the baby, knowing you have your own labor support person to stay with you from early labor in your home-where you should labor as long as you can, throughout the entire birthing process and even a little after to make sure you get started off on breastfeeding and bonding well!  No shift changes!  She's there for all 3 of you and serves your interests, not the Doctor's or the Hospital's. 

Edited by DoulaGinny - 9/5/12 at 9:07pm
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Edited by DoulaGinny - 9/5/12 at 9:05pm
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Edited by DoulaGinny - 9/5/12 at 9:06pm
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Edited by DoulaGinny - 9/5/12 at 9:06pm
post #12 of 17

Hey Del,


Congratulations on your pregnancy and on having a partner to whom supporting you is obviously really important! 


As a doula, I really try to take time to help a dad understand that I am there in the capacity he and his partner want and need me to be. I also try to help him know that I am there not to take over, but to teach him how to help in the same ways I am helping. (For instance, I will teach a dad how to do counter pressure so that he can relieve some of his partner's discomfort.) I don't know a single doula who wants to exclude a dad--it makes our jobs harder wink1.gif The best thing about most doulas is that telling them your concerns upfront will help them to help your family to the best of her ability. 


I hope this helps! 

post #13 of 17

hi, i'm a mom of six and a doula, it is worth it because expanding family need support . in labor with my  last babys(they were twins) the perason that was checking for me and walking with me were my doula's. the midwifes job is to make shore you and baby are safe your doulas job is to know you and family. to help with your comfort ,my peace of mind and how impowered i felt after was worth it. I was always covered and never felt isolated. I've done both birth with Doula's and Midwive and without. Home birth and Hospital. The thing that I would always keep is my doula.

post #14 of 17

Hello I am a mom of 5 and a doula, I become a doula when i was pregnant with my second and what I learned is invaluable. I know it's hard for husbands to understand but there is so much that we can bring to the birth experience. We are not there to place of your partner but to help both of you through important time. And I believe that as far as the expense, it is worth every penny to have a more enjoyable birth experience.

post #15 of 17
wow I had never heard of a doula before.

yes midwives have a number of birthing mothers to look after, usually about 4 and they work long hours. their job is more clinical and they are also very experienced in the clinical side of things such as checking the progression of labour, the baby's heart rhythm in relation to contractions etc. and they know how to act in an emergency.
post #16 of 17
I hired a doula and in sorry I wasted money. She had a young baby she was much more worried about than me. She kept asking me if I was almost done yet because she wanted to leave. I had a horrifying nine day labor and my doula and my midwife were both jerks because they lived fairly far away from me and didn't want to drive.

If you have contractions every six mi utes for nine days, no you are not going to be good at judging when you are almost done. That pressure was horrifying.
post #17 of 17

I had a great doula at my first birth (natural), and am hiring one again for the second.  Having had three babies, you might not need one quite as much as a first timer would, but I personally liked having one for the following reasons:


1.  If your goal is avoiding an epidural, this is your best bet in terms of having someone in the room who's knowledgeable about a variety of non-pharmaceutical pain relief techniques. 


2.  The female factor.  Most of the doulas I've ever met have kids, so you have another woman in the room who KNOWS what it's like to go through labor and delivery.  For some people, it may be the only person in the room who's also done it naturally as well (if that's the case).


3.  A doula can be as involved (or not) in your pregnancy as you want.  I personally did not feel like I needed much support during pregnancy, but knew I'd need it going into labor, and postpartum. 


4.  If you are having a baby in a hospital, that may be the only person (besides your husband) who's there from start to finish.


5.  Does she visit you at home and help out there? (If you want that, yes, many do)


6.  Would my midwife be sufficient?  Only if they're there through the majority of the birth.  That's something you'll want to ask up front.  In my case, I already know I will just get whoever happens to be working their shift during the time I'm there, so it's important to me that I have at least one person who I already know, since I will be dealing with strange nurses/attending physicians/midwives.  The other difference is a doula is there for YOU, midwives are usually more focused on how the BABY is doing. 



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