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Doula- do or don't?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hello all ~ I am about 15 weeks pregnant with my first baby. Can anyone share why they chose to get or not to get a doula? I read so much about it, and yet I am not sure really what they do, or how much of a financial commitment it would bring. Any advice is much appreciated!

post #2 of 23

ZimMomma- I have the same question. This is our first baby and we will be delivering at a free standing birth center with a midwife. I think I will ask our midwife what sort of role she usually plays during labor and how that role changes if a doula is present. One of the main reasons I am interested in having a doula is to give guidance to my DH and mom as to how they can help me through the labor process. I'd love to hear what everyone else's thoughts are.

post #3 of 23

We are also delivering at a free standing birth center with a midwife. She has actually had great things to say about having a doula at labor.  And my BFF had a doula at her birth last year and she can't say enough good things about the choice. BUT I am an abuse survivor and the thought of another person in the room while I am laboring is just not something I think I'm ok with. Even though it's clearly spelled out in my birth plan that I intend to be covered and that I will be the guardian of who sees and who touches my body, and even though I believe that will be respected, I just am not sure that I want to 'wrangle' yet another person while in labor (MW, MWasst[s], DH).

But on the other hand, if DH freaks out and falls apart or panics because he isn't sure what to do to fix what he thinks is wrong, then I might need another person there just to wrangle him!.

 

My decision (at 15weeks, who knows if it will change) is to get him/us into Bradley classes ASAP. If he gets through the Husband Coached Childbirth program early on and seems to have a handle on things, then I think we can go without a doula (which I am most comfortable with). If it seems to unsettle him or he doesn't seem to be 100% confident in his ability to do whatever I need him to do (including leaving me the heck alone) then I will still have months to interview doula and hopefully find one who I feel comfortable enough with to have at my labor and birth.

post #4 of 23

I've never had a doula because I have a midwife, a midwife assistant (personally, I would be very skeptical of a midwife who works without an assistant. jmo!), and my husband.
If I was missing any one of those, I may consider a doula for a first time birth.

Last birth it was just my husband and midwife and it was perfect, but it was also #4.

Most of my labors and births have been just my husband and I, with any where from 10 minutes to 2 hours of midwife and crew there.

YMMV!

post #5 of 23

I've been kicking around this question myself, and I'm not sure.  I'm leaning towards not hiring one because our entire birth team will be supporting me (free-standing birth center with midwives here, too) along with other friends and family who have kids of their own already.  I haven't asked my MW what she thinks about it, but as of today I don't think I would actually need the extra support.

post #6 of 23

Well, as a doula, I have to pitch in ;) Every woman/couple can benefit from a doula and every woman deserves a doula! Some of youe have mentioned concerns about your partners - Doula's are in fact often more for the husband!

 

Your midwife will have more of a "hands in" approach, while your doula will be hands on. 

 

My first birth I chose not to hire a doula (home birth with a MW, her assistant, and DH). I regret that decision and this time around I will have a doula there solely for me. 

 

I will have to go back and see what questions you guys have and time permitting answer them! Let me know if you have any other questions I can answer or what to know more about what a doula does :)

post #7 of 23

I highly, highly, highly recommend hiring a doula if you can afford it.  If you can't afford it, you can still look for a doula in training in your area who may provided free or very low-cost services because they need to attend a certain number of births before being certified.

 

Here are my reasons, though the below list is not at all exhaustive.

  • Our doula really helped DH learn what was coming, how he could help, and how he could really be a part of the experience.  He was a bit skeptical at first that she would overtake his role, but then realized that she would actually help him a ton.
  • We developed a relationship with our doula long before the birth, which is critical.  She did not at all feel like another stranger in the room.
  • She is the only person in your hospital room who is there just for you.  The midwives (or OBs) and nurses have other responsibilities, and even your partner is only partly there for you.  Remember, this is also a huge experience for him/her, and while their role is to be supportive, it's also nice if they have the time/space to absorb what's happening to them.
  • If you feel comfortable with your doula (and you shouldn't hire her if you don't), you can focus less on the "protect yourself" part of labor and more on the emotional and physical journey you're embarking on.  
  • Your doula will likely know a lot about alternative pain relief techniques, positioning, massage, etc.  Your midwife may know also, but you can't count on her to be there on your schedule (she could be catching another baby, e.g.).

 

Our midwife loves working with doulas, just FYI.  They're not looked down on by all medical professionals.  

 

 

M.Q., I'm not an abuse survivor, but I would imagine that having a doula would be extremely helpful.  Yes, it would be another person in the room.  But it would be someone who is there just for you, and who has met with you, and who knows your history.  She should be extremely respectful of your history, and could hopefully help put you at ease (to the extent that's possible) with others in the room.  It sounds like you're worried about how DH will handle the whole experience.  You don't have to worry about that with a doula.  I would, at a minimum, meet with a few doulas and see how you feel.

post #8 of 23

I agree with Sila and Ablemec!!      I am a doula and while I didn't have one at either of my last births I am having one this time. Our first HB and I know I want someone to be there just for me. The first 2 I had no clue there was such a person. 

 

Most doulas are trained in many different options for pain relief, positions, etc. We are non-judgemental and are there the entire time for the mom!  Abuse survivors can benefit from doulas as well and they meet with you beforehand and know your preferences even if you want them to stay by your head and talk you through it. 

post #9 of 23

Really a great range of answers here! I use to doula also - lol - seems like most of us have, and that's pretty neat. It is approaching 4 years since I attended my last birth.  Never had so many birth workers in a DDC before.

 

My opinion is biased because of my issues:

The only reason I haven't had a doula is because I am an extremely private person. Even during birth I am trying to play hostess in my head. My last birth I was trying to tell the midwife something and a contraction started and I was like "sorry!" and she said "Just have your contraction, sweetie"...like really incredulous. That was when they were coming 2 minutes apart. LOL

I just don't switch in to labor mode where I turn in to myself until the baby is practically here, so more people = more stress. I am totally one of those just want it to be intimate for DH and I.

 

Thankfully I have always had midwives and assistants that pick up on that when we need our time. Usually they leave and only come at the very end. One set got there 8 minutes before babe was born and that was perfect for me. I wanted to do unassisted childbirth since number 2, but DH is not comfortable with that so...with a hands off midwife we go.

 

That being said - if you don't have my personal issues (lol) then I would definitely lean more towards having a doula!

I don't know if every couple/woman would benefit from a doula,(haha ok maybe it is just me lol) BUT the majority would benefit greatly. It is great help for your partner...birth can be overwhelming at times and at those times it is 'all hands on deck!'...

post #10 of 23

Great idea for a thread! I'm still trying to decide about a doula as well. We are moving to an island soon and I believe there is one doula there, so it is a possibility for me, if I like her and if she is available. But honestly I am not sure if I even want a doula. My DH is extremely supportive of a drug-free (except for gas and air!) natural birth, and I will most likely be having baby in a certified baby-friendly hospital with 10% C-section rate and the highest breastfeeding rates in Scotland. I do know that unnecessary interventions sometimes happen in hospitals, but I'm not overly worried about my midwife or my DH pressuring me into having interventions I don't want. I'm also an extremely private person and, while I know that I would get to know a doula before the birth, I'm not sure how comfortable I would be with having someone else there all the time. I like to be left alone. I completely understand what you mean, Kamiro, about this being a private experience between DH and me. 

 

And all that to say that I'm still undecided! I've done a lot of reading about doulas and about how having one reduces one's risk of interventions and such, and I think it would be good public health policy if everyone were offered a doula. But do I want one for myself? I'm not sure. 

post #11 of 23
In case it wasn't clear from my post, I'm not actually a doula. I just love them!
post #12 of 23

I'm having my 3rd, and there's no way I would go without a doula!!!  I don't think it's just for the 1st...I think they're great for every birth.  With my first, I was so terrified thinking the doctors/nurses were going to be trying to talk me into all kinds of unnecessary interventions, and I wanted someone experienced who would be on my side.  My doula ended up being the replacement doula as I got induced the one weekend I knew ahead of time that my doula was going out of town...but the replacement doula was very experienced and when I couldn't stand the pain anymore of the pitocin contractions, I needed her to tell me I was ok with getting relief.  My Dr. was telling me contractions are contractions, and my doula told me there's no comparison between natural contractions and induced ones.  She helped me let go of the idea that I'd be giving up if I got an epidural.  At every point when I had questions, she was able to tell me things from her experience.  Then as the baby was crowning, she took pictures - dh was busy with other things, and I'm so glad I have those pics that no one else would've thought to take.  My mom was there too...and she wouldn't have thought to take those pics either (especially as the nurses said it was against hospital policy to allow pics/video of the actual birth.)  Then the doula helped me nurse for the first time...my mother who had bf me...just didn't remember how to help me.  

With my 2nd birth, when transition came, the doula worked so hard trying to get me past the pain ... and I actually had a wonderful nurse who was all for my having a natural birth...she helped too...but the pushing stage lasted for over 2 hours, and so they were able to take turns along with my dh.  I remember telling the doula that I couldn't do it anymore, and her holding my hands and looking me in the eyes and telling me she knew I was strong etc...Also, I really think that everyone else - the nurses, the doctors acted differently because they knew I had paid out of pocket to have someone like a doula there - it made them realize that I was committed to having as few interventions as possible, and that she would know if they tried to skew any information, even if I wouldn't totally understand.  Also, with the 2nd, it turned out that the delivering Dr. was a childhood friend of my doula, and he was very laid back even though the pushing stage lasted forever.  My nurse actually told me that had it been anyone else, I probably would be talked into a CSection.

 

I am so totally getting a doula this time.  The key is to interview them and make sure you really like whoever it is going to be present at such a vulnerable moment of your life.  

post #13 of 23

Chiming in with Sila and Meksmama as I too am a doula:)  My DH and I took an amazing Bradley class with our first and had a gorgeous intervention free hospital birth with both our first and second babies...to be honest, I hadn't thought of hiring a doula with either of those and didn't realize what I was missing until I had both of my doula partners present for my third baby's birth, a waterbirth at home.  My DH was amazing- throughout my three labors- completely involved in coaching me and supporting me both physically and emotionally. However I have to say that the way I experienced my contractions was completely different the second my doulas put their hands on me during that third labor. (DH and I really wanted to labor alone during early/early active labor.) I truly experienced what I've been telling all of my clients for 5+ years- honestly, the contractions were far less painful and I instantly relaxed.  My midwife and midwife's assistant were awesome- but their roles were *completely* separate/different than that of my doulas.  My DH has also said that the last was his favorite birth because while he was certainly an active participant, he was able to enjoy/observe the birth in a way that just wasn't possible when he was the principal support person.  I've had lots of my clients' partners tell me that post-birth...that while they were initially concerned that the doula's role would take the place of theirs, that the doula's presence actually enhanced their role/experience. 

post #14 of 23

Another doula here! I just have to respond to M.Q.: Your feelings about another person in the room are completely understandable but you might be surprised how much a doula can help you, especially when you've had a traumatic experience in the past. My husband and I took Bradley classes with our first pregnancy and they were great and we learned so much. But, it was a LOT of information and we ended up hiring a doula because we were worried we wouldn't be able to remember everything. A doula would be able to help your husband remember everything you guys learned in class so he can focus 100% on you and helping you through your labor. Of course it is totally your choice and you might feel completely different after your Bradley classes. Just wanted to give you some more to think about and let you know that a doula might be beneficial to you especially with your history.

post #15 of 23

DH and I had a long conversation about this last night. He is actually very pro-doula, as it turns out. He really likes that we can have a doula (read: expert/professional) come to the house in early labor and moderate the debate over when to head to the birth center (we're sure he will want to leave way too soon and I will want to stay way too late). I was afraid he would think it a waste of money since he knows I won't let her touch me (nobody but DH touches me except in cases of emergency- ever; this has nothing to do with pregnancy or labor) won't let her take pictures, and will most likely send her into the other room to play video games or some such. Turns out the "just in case" factor is worth the $500-$1000 to him (we have NO IDEA what a doula charges in our area) and he likes the idea that there could be someone around that can support him in supporting me. Even if I never speak to the doula in labor, there would be a person to answer his questions, and that seems to be very valuable.

 

I am still concerned about the idea of another person around and the effect it could have. Case in point: midwife A met with me before I had an official appointment. She spoke with me, listened to my concerns, and made sure I knew that I would be safe and respected in their practice. I felt good about her, so I scheduled my initial appt. My appointment was with midwife B (they rotate, so they want clients to meet/work with all of the mws) and I had not met her before. I knew she was going to draw blood (would rather be waterboarded) and was scared to death (full disclosure: my abuser was my pediatrician-  you can understand that this raises the stakes). My blood pressure was 144/93. Next appointment was with midwife A again, and she informed me that a BP that high will risk me out of their practice, but even after the panic attack I narrowly avoided due to those words, she took my BP and it was 122/86. Just not having a stranger around helped that much. Adding another person into the labor equation scares me of things like that.

 

Doula ladies here: would you be annoyed/offended or feel like your time was wasted if you were hired and then wound up doing a lot of sitting in the next room and little to no actual helping?

 

I'm thinking of taking private Bradley classes from a local doula (will make sure my MW recommends her) to try and see if I can grow comfortable with her and if DH clicks with her. That may all turn out wonderfully. And if it doesn't, I still have time to figure the whole thing out. This is why we have this conversation at 15 weeks.

 

-MQ

post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by M.Q. View Post

DH and I had a long conversation about this last night. He is actually very pro-doula, as it turns out. He really likes that we can have a doula (read: expert/professional) come to the house in early labor and moderate the debate over when to head to the birth center (we're sure he will want to leave way too soon and I will want to stay way too late). I was afraid he would think it a waste of money since he knows I won't let her touch me (nobody but DH touches me except in cases of emergency- ever; this has nothing to do with pregnancy or labor) won't let her take pictures, and will most likely send her into the other room to play video games or some such. Turns out the "just in case" factor is worth the $500-$1000 to him (we have NO IDEA what a doula charges in our area) and he likes the idea that there could be someone around that can support him in supporting me. Even if I never speak to the doula in labor, there would be a person to answer his questions, and that seems to be very valuable.

 

I am still concerned about the idea of another person around and the effect it could have. Case in point: midwife A met with me before I had an official appointment. She spoke with me, listened to my concerns, and made sure I knew that I would be safe and respected in their practice. I felt good about her, so I scheduled my initial appt. My appointment was with midwife B (they rotate, so they want clients to meet/work with all of the mws) and I had not met her before. I knew she was going to draw blood (would rather be waterboarded) and was scared to death (full disclosure: my abuser was my pediatrician-  you can understand that this raises the stakes). My blood pressure was 144/93. Next appointment was with midwife A again, and she informed me that a BP that high will risk me out of their practice, but even after the panic attack I narrowly avoided due to those words, she took my BP and it was 122/86. Just not having a stranger around helped that much. Adding another person into the labor equation scares me of things like that.

 

Doula ladies here: would you be annoyed/offended or feel like your time was wasted if you were hired and then wound up doing a lot of sitting in the next room and little to no actual helping?

 

I'm thinking of taking private Bradley classes from a local doula (will make sure my MW recommends her) to try and see if I can grow comfortable with her and if DH clicks with her. That may all turn out wonderfully. And if it doesn't, I still have time to figure the whole thing out. This is why we have this conversation at 15 weeks.

 

-MQ

Answering the doula question: I can't think of any doula I've met that would be annoyed, offended or in any way feeling 'put out' due to just being there 'just in case' and not actively helping in the labor.

I actually have had 2 births that were me sitting  next to the laboring mom (watching tv no less), and doing nothing else but offering sips of water. LOL

 

It makes up for the other times where you feel like you've been digging ditches for 24 hours straight!

Bottom line is when you are hired as a woman's doula, you are her (and family!) labor support. Labor support can take many different angles depending on what each woman wants and needs.

 

I've been at births where it  has turned in to a c-section, epidural, beautiful home, natural hospital and even...the tragic side of birth that we all pray will never happen to any one. praying.gif

I have never had to support a woman or her partner in the exact same way at any of those.

 

With a lot of love to you MQ. I'm really sorry the abuse happened to you, and I'm even more sorry to say that you aren't alone. grouphug.gif

post #17 of 23

I second what Kamiro said. The doula I had at my first birth did little more than sit and watch and offer suggestions every once in awhile. I think the only time she touched me was when she le takt me brace my foot against her leg while I was pushing. But she was thrilled to be there and I was thrilled to have her. Just her presence made me and my husband feel much more relaxed. And even if you don't click with the doula you want to take classes from, she can probably give you contact information for other doulas in the area that you can meet. If that's the case, you'll have the opportunity to meet with your doula a couple times before you go into labor and I can't imagine it would be too difficult to get in an extra meeting or two to make sure you feel comfortable with her if you decide to use one. Good luck on your journey, mama. Sending lots of love your way!

post #18 of 23
M.Q., I know this isn't really the time or place, and i apologize if I'm out of line, but I am so enraged for you. Monsters who abuse the people in their care are the lowest of the low. I can't imagine anyone abusing my sweet little boy, and even trying to think of it makes me sick with fury. I want to say I'm so sorry that this happened to you, but that's just so trivial. As many hugs as I can send you.
post #19 of 23

AS the others have said I agree... as a doula I would not mind doing that if the mother (and family) wanted me to be out of the room just knowing I was there if needed would be ok!!

post #20 of 23
I just want to chime in on my experiences with not having a doula and then having a doula. With the doula at my last birth my husband stepped back and let the doula take his place. Every other birth I've felt very connected to my husband. When the doula was there I felt my husband wasn't comfortable to be himself. When the doula was out of the room my husband was right there at my side, but then would step back when the doula was there.

M.Q. my blood pressure did the same thing with one of my pgs. It'd be high at the appointment, then I'd stop at Walmart and check it later and it would be normal. I'd pray for peace on the way to appointments and listen to calming music, but that never helped. It all worked out and mine was never so high to risk me out of a home birth.
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