Courtney Alva, doula, doesn't leave moms side. Courtney is a doula in the Houston, TX area. (Photo credit: Bump 2 Baby Birth Photography)
When I first started teaching natural birth classes, years ago, I rarely mentioned doulas in my class. I personally had never had a doula at any of my births and so, while I was fine with them, I thought that a trained partner was good enough as a companion for mom. As time when on and as I talked more with other childbirth educators I realized that I was wrong. I had talked about a doula like she was great for "some women," when the truth is that just about EVERY woman can benefit from a doula's presence at her birth. Now when I teach new couples I encourage every one of them to hire a doula, even those birthing at home.
In our current obstetric culture women have lots of commentators on what they should or shouldn't do, but few people who are just there to support them and their partner in their birth. Few who understand how to emotionally "be there" for the birth and preparation leading up to it. Few women have a strong circle of people lifting them up. This is why the doula is such an important (but oft neglected) part of the birth support team.
I asked a doula I respect, Maria Pokluda, to write up a quick post with 20 reasons you should hire a doula. Maria is the co-creator of Birth Boot Camp DOULA and and has served many women on their journey to motherhood. I love these fun (and serious) reasons why you should hire a doula! Enjoy!
20 Reasons You Should Hire a Doula
1. The research says you should. And just in case you don't know the difference between a midwife and a doula, here's something to learn. Oh, and here's more reasons states are looking into sponsoring doulas.
2. Your partner will be able to eat, grab a cup of coffee and go to the bathroom knowing that he is not leaving you alone. And it's important that your partner takes care of him or herself as well, because the better they feel, the better support system they will be for you.
3. A doula won't leave at shift change….even if your labor progresses through more than one shift change. It's incredible to think that, isn't it? That someone will be there through the entire experience, no matter how long it takes, because you need them to be. The art of being a doula is one that takes incredible sacrifice sometimes, but it's always done out of love and concern for you and for baby. There's nothing like it.
4. Doulas know the "best" for all things pregnancy. Be it in the search for the perfect care provider or the perfect maternity bra…doulas know and will share their knowledge. But, they won't be pushy with it and you can take what you want and leave what you don't. They want to be a resource and a support for you, and very rarely at any other time in your life will you have somone so wholly committed to taking care of you.
5. Doulas give good foot rubs during labor. Incredible, really.
6. Doulas give good backrubs during labor. The best--and backrubs during back labor are the best.
Houston area doula, Courtney Alva, with a birthing mother. (Photo credit: Bump 2 Baby Birth Photography)
7. Your doula works for YOU. Not the hospital and not your care provider. It's weird to consider it 'working for you' because she really feels like a long-lost family member (heck, maybe she is!). But you don't have to worry about her thinking of any interest in your baby's birth but yours--your birth plan, your comfort level--all you, all the time.
8. When a couple has a doula, they have better breastfeeding success. She's helped tons of moms with their breastfeeding journeys, and she's thrilled to help you in yours. And not in a clinical way, but in a way that's comfortable for you.
9. Labor hurts less when you have a doula. It's true. And you have better birth outcomes.
10. Labor is often faster when you have a doula. See above. Again, it's true.
11. When you are approaching your due date, your doula will never ask you, "Have you had that baby yet???" In fact, when the entire world is worrying about how long you're going to keep that baby in, she'll be the one telling you to listen to your body and the baby.
12. A doula has a rebozo and knows how to use it. Oh yes, you know you want that goodness!
13. Your doula will tell you that you are beautiful even if you are wearing a hospital gown. She totally believes it too. Because you are, and she'll spend all the time she needs building you up to realize you're the amazing, incredible human who is about to give birth to another amazing and incredible human. Yes, you. And you're beautiful!
14. She will listen and relive all the details of your birth both in the moments right after delivery and in the weeks to follow. She will probably even still remember details years later. You're never going to forget your birth but the best thing about your doula is that she most likely won't either. It's as special to her as it can be, and it's one of her greatest privileges.
Taylor Barnes, a doula practicing in Denton, TX, comforts a mom as she labors in the water. A laboring woman can never have too many supporters.
15. Women who have doulas reduce their odds of having a cesarean delivery.
16. Doulas are great for babies too! A doula reduces NICU admission and hospital stays for mom and baby.
17. Doulas know your birth experience matters. And, they don't make you feel guilty for wanting it to.
18. Doulas help your partner support you. Because let's face it...they may not know how but your doula does and she'll make sure they learn.
19. Your doula can talk you through your options at every step of the way. They won't ever make decisions for you but they will help you ask the questions so that you can make the best choices for your birth.
20. Doulas will support you no matter what happens!
*Curious about some of these statements about doulas? Many are backed by research. Check out this Cochrane Review for more info.*
Mom (center) with her doula on the left and doula in training (Hailie Wolfe in Abilene, TX) on the right. Hailie is training with Birth Boot Camp DOULA.
Maria Pokluda is a doula serving families in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She got involved in birth through her own experience of researching infertility and then pregnancy and birth. She now has four children as well as a patient husband. Maria is the co-creator and trainer of Birth Boot Camp DOULA and owns greatexpectationsbirth.com.
More about doulas:
Evidence Based Birth has a nice article here on the evidence and research associated with doula care.
Benefits of a doula talked about here.
Why you should take a birth class and hire a doula.
How a doula is different than an l&d nurse.
A special thanks to those who provided photographs of themselves in action. Love doulas! Pictures used with permission.
Courtney Alva in Houston, TX- Away We Go Baby, Taylor Barnes in Denton, TX- Doula and Childbirth Educator, Hailie Wolfe, Childbirth Educator and aspiring doula in Abilene, TX