A doula is not a necessity during birth. The baby is going to come, regardless of who is in the room (or even regardless of where you are!). I wish I could say that you absolutely NEED to hire a doula to be with you during labor, but it’s just not true. However, there are a plethora of reasons of why you would WANT a doula at your birth. I’ll lay out 5 for you, but first, let’s go over what a doula actually is.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines doula as:
a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth
A doula is a non-medical person who’s sole purpose is to support, guide, and serve the expectant woman through the transition into motherhood. Now that you are more familiar with what a doula is, here’s 5 reasons why you should hire one for your next birth:
1. They are with you from the beginning.
I’m not just talking about the beginning of labor (although your doula will come be with you in early labor if you want), but your doula will be with you from the beginning of your pregnancy–or whenever it is that you sign the contract. You will develop a close bond with her because she will be with you, in person or spirit, for every doctor appointment, ultrasound, baby kick, sleepless night, back ache, etc. 10 weeks and need to vent about morning sickness? Your doula is here to listen, and maybe even offer some advice, or at the very least, words of encouragement. 23 weeks and excited to be feeling baby kicks? Your doula is excited too. 37 weeks and anxious about labor? Your doula is right there to calm your fears and reaffirm your ability to birth your baby.
2. You can talk to them about anything.
Hemorrhoids. Cervical mucus. Bloody mucus. Dilation. Sex. Nipple cream. Nothing is really off-limits. Have a question/concern/comment? Just ask the doula. She won’t be embarrassed, or make you feel awkward, and if she doesn’t have the answer she will do her best to find it for you. Your care provider can answer all these questions, but there’s just something about having another woman who you can easily chat with about these types of things without having to wait for the next appointment.
3. Doulas are constant, even when birth is not.
I’ve given birth three times and all three times the birth did not go as planned. Birth is unpredictable, and sometimes even the best laid plans get blown to pieces during labor. Your doula is the one constant: she will not leave your side until that baby is safely in your arms. Planning to get the epidural, only to find out baby is coming too fast and there’s no time? Your doula has your back (both figuratively and literally) and will guide you and empower you through labor, transition, and delivery. Planning to have an unmedicated birth, but then change your mind when active labor hits? Your doula is right there affirming your birth plan change and providing emotional and mental support. In need of an emergency cesarean? Your doula will validate your feelings and support you emotionally before the cesarean, and physically afterward. In short, no matter how many twists and turns you take on the road to delivery, your doula will be right there with you every step of the way. And it doesn’t end there: a doula will stay with you for at least the first hour after birth, will help with breastfeeding if needed, and see you at least once during the postpartum time as well.
4. Doulas support dads too.
A doula’s main goal is to provide support to the laboring mother, but often times that is extended to the father as well. Labor can be long, and with a doula present if you’re partner needs to run to the cafeteria for some food, or catch a little nap, he can do so without feeling like you’ve been abandoned. Or maybe your partner has no idea how to help you. A doula can step in and gently offer direction to the partner and find ways for him to be involved. A doula does not take the place of your partner, but instead works alongside, supporting him as well.
5. Higher satisfaction with birth.
Hiring a doula does not mean that you will have a blissful, easy birth. It is our hope, but we are human and birth is unpredictable and sometimes things happen out of everyone’s control. But regardless of if birth went as planned or not, people who hire a doula or more likely to overall feel satisfied with their birth experience.