Can't decide on a doula or birth plan...need some advice - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 03-16-2007, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey all you mama's out there,

I am all over the place with my "birth plan." I own and operate my own photography business, and I am normally a very decisive person, but being a first time mommy, this baby planning thing has me second guessing everything. Each time I feel like I've made a decision, I start to change my mind.

I know part of this is pregnant brain (lol), and of course ultimately the baby is going to come whether I make these decisions or not. But I'm mainly trying to decide right now if I want a doula or not. $$$ is always a factor, of course, but also wondering about the real world benefits of a doula. Right now my *very loose* birth plan is to go to the hospital (10 minutes away) as late as I can and try to have the baby naturally. I am terrified of an episiotomy, but other than that I want to keep an open mind with the ultimate health of the baby paramount.

But I'm also interested in the Bradley method--in which case, would I need a doula? I'm interested in a water birth--anyone? I'm just kinda confused right now.

Any kind of advice, experience, etc would be greatly appreciated!

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#2 of 14 Old 03-16-2007, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Neve View Post
But I'm mainly trying to decide right now if I want a doula or not. $$$ is always a factor, of course, but also wondering about the real world benefits of a doula. Right now my *very loose* birth plan is to go to the hospital (10 minutes away) as late as I can and try to have the baby naturally. I am terrified of an episiotomy, but other than that I want to keep an open mind with the ultimate health of the baby paramount.

But I'm also interested in the Bradley method--in which case, would I need a doula? I'm interested in a water birth--anyone?
Personally, both my husband (who initially thought it was a waste of money) and I believe that hiring a doula is THE ABSOLUTE SMARTEST THING a first- time mother can do.

When we found out we were pregnant again and I started talking about the details--doctor, midwife, where, etc.--DH's only comment was, "I don't care, as long as we hire that doula woman again!"

We did Bradley childbirth classes last time. Our doula was also our Bradley instructor. Bradley+doula is a fine combo. Bradley is also called "husband-coached" childbirth, but that doesn't mean you can't have others help you, too. In fact, I felt that the doula's presence allowed my husband to focus on providing me with unfettered EMOTIONAL support, while I still had the doula's expert physical support, as well as an extra cheerleader.

I'm hoping to have a water birth this time, and I will have a doula present. I would rather waste a little money (and I'm normally somewhat cheap, not extravagant!) on a doula I don't end up needing than wish I had more support.

Labor is... well... mind-blowingly different than anything you've ever done before. Even though I felt generally very empowered by the birthing process, I still felt very physically vulnerable during labor. I felt like a celebrity with an entourage with my doula--like I had someone right there, AT MY BECK AND CALL, who would help me with whatever I needed. When I had my first contraction in the hospital room (alone in the bathroom, because I thought I wanted to use the toilet), it was my doula I called to join me as I sat on the toilet, NOT my DH! (Unexpected.)

For your first, ESPECIALLY if you are aiming for natural birth in a hospital (which I did, very happily!), I can't stress enough how much I think a doula will help you.

Maybe you could trade services with a doula? Photography seems like a very trade-able skill.

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#3 of 14 Old 03-16-2007, 04:07 PM
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Definitely hire a doula! The cost may seem like a lot now but after your birth when you realize how much your doula did for you, it will seem paltry. Husbands are helpful and childbirth classes can provide a lot of information and inspiration but a person who is trained and experienced in supporting a mother while she births is just invaluable.
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#4 of 14 Old 03-16-2007, 05:26 PM
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Not a lot of time to post... but YES! Hire the doula. You will not regret it!
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#5 of 14 Old 03-16-2007, 06:26 PM
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Oh, yes, my advice for you would be to hire a doula. Willo wrote so clearly, but I will also add...
You have no idea how crowded the hospital will be with birthing women when you are there. Sometimes a nurse is a wonderful doula and can stay with you for much of labor, but in busy times you and your husband might find yourselves very alone in the birthing room besides being checked on periodically. An experienced doula is a great go-between between you and the hospital staff. She is a true advocate for you, not needing to follow hospital protocols and can help you make in-the moment decisions regardless of what your birth plan says. For ex (this happened to a woman when i was her doula), if the doc wants to break your water, your doula can speak with you after the doctor walks out so you and your dh can think about it, and give you a reality check of what that might mean for your labor/birth, and can check in with how you are feeling. In my experiences, docs don't offer lots of information ("If we break your water, it will increase the intensity of your contractions"), so doulas can act as a source of information in the moment.

And they can help you to process the birth afterwards, offering their educated perspective on what happened and why...and offer support pp.

I don't think a doula would ever be a waste of money in the hospital.

JENNY, 38~ preschool teacher, birth activist, sun worshiper, singer, married for 17 years and mom to

Karan 15, Fiona 12, Bodhi 10, Bjorn 6, Devon 3, and Robin Taylor born January 16th!

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#6 of 14 Old 03-16-2007, 07:59 PM
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I'm super short on time too, but wanted to add:

HIRE A DOULA! I'm a doula, so granted I have a bias, but can't argue with these great benefits:

50% reduction in the cesarean rate
25% shorter labor
60% reduction in epidural requests
40% reduction in oxytocin use
30% reduction in analgesia use
40% reduction in forceps delivery
Information was obtained from Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter
Easier and Healthier Birth, Klaus, Kennell, and Klaus (1993)

Interview carefully and pick one you really jive with. Afterwards, you will probably think they were worth their weight in gold.

Christine, mama to Ava (7.05), Alder (5.07), Sadie (2.09) and #4 due mid-July 2011! 
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#7 of 14 Old 03-16-2007, 08:06 PM
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I'm a Doula too, and I say that is is completely worth hiring a Doula, ESPECIALLY if this is your first and you are giving birth in a hospital. It may seem like a lot of money but Doulas generally do a few prenatal meetings, they are there for the WHOLE birth and then a postpartum visit too. On top of all of that they usually are available by phone all the time to answer questions and offer birth education.

I can't speak for all, but I do quite a bit of childbirth education with my couples before the delivery so they are well prepared.

Did you check out the birth plan thread with the sample birth plans? That may help. It is hard to make decisions about something you've never done. Just leave your birth plan open and only include the things that are most important to you. You cannot really "plan" a birth because birth is an unpredictable event and you never really know how it will go. Leave it open and let your DH know all of your wishes so he can be your voice during birth.

Zen doula-mama to my spirited DS1 (2/03), my CHD (TAPVR) warrior DS2 (6/07) & a gentle baby girl (8/09)
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#8 of 14 Old 03-16-2007, 10:22 PM
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Neve, we had an extensive birth plan with my first pregnancy. We had a midwife, a great, natural plan, read & practiced, took classes, and we chose not to hire a doula. I will tell you what we learned from our first:

1) No matter how much you plan, labor & birth isn't a planned activity.
2) Hire a doula. In retrospect, we wish we had one for our first birth, and so this time around, it was the first thing we did.

We are also taking a class again, this one with our doula & based on the book Birthing from Within.

I am choosing not to write a birth plan this time... because what I discovered, and this could be just a personal experience/revelation, was that by listing all the ways I thought things should & shouldn't go, I was in a way, building myself up for disappointment when, as naturally CAN happen in labor & birth, things didn't go as planned. There is NO reason to bring disappointment into a labor... you have to go with the flow, follow your body's signals, and know when you need to take breaks, when you need to change direction, when you need help - and this is why I wish we had a doula the first time, and why we have one this time. Because when you're in labor, especially first time around, with no experience, it is, frankly overwhelming. Particularly if you're in a hosptial (this is an assumption on my part). That DOESN'T mean you shouldn't have a VERY OPEN discussion/relationship with your care provider, from early on - let them know your "plans", your hopes, and how you feel about the important things... make sure you're on the same page. Then let your husband & doula help keep the hospital staff & you on track with how you'd like things to proceed.

Anyway, good luck to you, whether you choose to write a plan or not, or hire a doula or not. Your baby will come either way, and it will be a wonderful experience!

Tweet me: @kellynaturally Working Mom to 2 Montessori-schooled kids. We're a vegetarian family! I blog at <--link in my profile!

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#9 of 14 Old 03-16-2007, 10:35 PM
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One more vote for the doula! My doula is the whole reason I was able to stay home as long as I did. She provided so much support, both physical and emotional, that I didn't feel the need to leave the house until I was past 8cm. By the time I got to the hospital I was ready to push the baby out. I don't know what labor would have been like without her, and, honestly, I don't want to!

Actually that experience with her, and the utter and complete difference between my experience laboring at home (relaxed, calm, "right" feeling) and my time in the hospital (rushed, busy, loud) is what gave me the confidence to plan a homebirth this time.
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#10 of 14 Old 03-19-2007, 03:10 PM
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I'm a doula and I highly recommend hiring a doula. In addition to the benefits mentioned earlier by another doula, don't forget that the nurse is not there for your needs, but there to check BP and such. She will not stay with you (likely) and will not hold you while you squat or assist you to the bathroom. She will likely say you should use the bed pan. We all know that using a bed pan doesn't have the same effect of using the toilet, in getting the baby to decend.

Good luck!


Vegetarian Hindu, mother to L,P and R. 
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#11 of 14 Old 03-19-2007, 06:26 PM
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I didn't have a doula, but see the need for someone there for you other than you DH. I transfered to the hospital from my midwifes house and had my midwife, Mother-in-law (nurse) aand my mommy...plenty of women!! Not to say you need that many women!! I have attended many births for friends and family and everyone was thankful to have one more person on their side.
My post is really about the Ina May's second book about the births on the farm and she talks alot about them. Also, make sure your OB or midwife shares your feelings about the episiotomy as well, I didn't want one and my OB was very cut happy.
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#12 of 14 Old 03-22-2007, 12:36 AM
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I had a doula for my son's birth, and I give her a big chunk of the credit for helping me get through my challenging natural birth in a hospital. She was with us for all 24 hours of my active labor, from laboring at home for hours and then in the hospital. Money was a serious factor for us, so we tracked down doulas who were working on getting certified. For local certification, doulas need a minimum of 100 hours and 10 births (I think we were her 8th birth). But, in addition, the woman we ended up hiring had her own children at home, was older, was a certified hypno-babies instructor, so she had significant experience outside of the doula experience. Anyway, she participated in our birth for the experience and credit hours which made it possible for us to hire her. Something to think about if you are afraid you can't afford it.

Mama of three incredible bf, cd, naturally birthed little people!
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#13 of 14 Old 04-01-2007, 06:36 PM
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the birthing from within book advocates not having a birth plan because too often we think it will speak for us (among many other reasons too long to list here)....I have decide to do a birth plan but to make it short and precise.....

oh, and yes...hire a doula!!! you will be much better off.....I should have done that with my first birth.......I needed someone who knew how to center me back and keep me focused....

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#14 of 14 Old 04-07-2007, 05:35 PM
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When I first heard of doulas, I thought it was ridiculous. Now I plan on having one, it seems like a small investment for a whole lot of support both for me & DH. I've also written & shared it with my midwife who really likes it (I can send it to you separately if you'd like an example). I think the key with birth plans is to keep it simple & cover the main things that you want/don't want to happen. If you have a midwife & or a doula you trust chances are most of your concerns will be taken care of without the birth plan. Then again, neither of them are mind-readers & with a 1st birth, a plan sounds like the way to go.

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."- Albert Einstein

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