When I first learned that I was pregnant, I started thinking about hiring a doula. What is a doula, you say? They are the most truly supportive, caring, and knowledgeable person you can have at your birth!
Doulas are not midwives or healthcare practitioners, so they are not able to offer any services that an OBYGN offers. I like to think of a doula as your best friend, or even your mom, but with more knowledge and experience with birthing. They are there to advocate for you and your birth preferences and help explain your birth options.
I knew I wanted a doula at my birth. Here are the benefits of hiring a doula.
1. Doulas are supportive.
Let me say it again, doulas are supportive! I could not have labored unmedicated for 26 hours, 6 of those being at 9cm, without my doula (and husband, of course).
My doula not only supported me, but my husband as well. She made sure we both remembered to eat and drink while I was in labor. She relieved my husband when he had to use the restroom or needed a break from applying counter-pressure.
She applied counter-pressure with him during the final hours. She encouraged me to lean on and rely on her throughout labor, especially during my biggest contractions.
2. Doulas care.
Doulas genuinely care about their clients. Someone told me that they weren’t hiring a doula because they loved their doctor. Doctors aren’t by your side, encouraging you and caring for you during every contraction – doulas are. Your doctor’s main goal is getting baby out, sometimes on their own terms. They strongly encourage interventions, usually through your nurse, and then make their grand appearance when it’s time to push (or cut baby out).
Doulas care about you, your baby, your other support people, and your birth. They set aside their judgements and opinions and want you to birth the way that you want to birth.
Have them look over your birth preferences and don’t forget to give them a copy!
They are also incredible at reading body language. There were times when I wasn’t interested in being touched or talked to, and my doula could tell that I needed space.
Towards the end of my labor, I grabbed the bed railing while she and my husband applied pressure to my hips and back. When the nurse adjusted the bed and I reached for the railing, I couldn’t find it. My doula gently placed my hand on the railing for me.
In the moment, I didn’t realize I was even looking for it, but she had been watching my movement during my contractions, so she knew I was reaching for it.
I had my baby 11 months ago, and my doula still checks in on me to see how I’m doing – she cares.
3. Doulas are knowledgeable.
Doulas are trained, certified professionals with knowledge about birthing and birth options. You know when your mom or friend says something and tries to be helpful, but you know there isn’t any science or research to back it up? Well, this is where a doula comes in. They stay up to date with the most recent research on most, if not all, birthing practices.
A lot of times, doulas are certified in multiple areas. For instance, my doula was a birth and postpartum doula as well as a childbirth educator. She was the instructor for the birth class I attended, and I later learned that she was a doula. I knew then that I had to hire her.
Because she was knowledgeable in other areas, she helped to keep us informed about birthing positions and birthing practices. She taught us the ins-and-outs of the hospital processes. I was so happy to know all of this before going into labor. Can you imagine getting to the hospital and having no idea where to go or what to do?
She was a regular at the hospital we chose, which was also helpful! The nursing staff recognized her and liked her. She wasn’t a first-timer, which helped boost our confidence that we chose the right person to join our support team.
Other areas that your doula could have credentials are: birth photography, essential oils, ayurvedic cooking, lactation, etc.
4. Doulas are the familiar face you need.
Doulas are the familiar face you need during labor, especially your first labor. And especially if your family is far away. My mom was 5 hours away and my mother-in-law was 2 and a half hours away. I didn’t want them as a part of my birthing team, but if I had, I couldn’t rely on them to make it in time.
This is the case for a lot of young families – parents, friends, siblings live too far to participate.
Your doula will invest their time to get to know you and your family. Unlike your doctor, you won’t just be meeting her for the first time when you get to the hospital. You may share several meals together, chat on the phone on a weekly basis, or she may just swing by your house to check on you. She does this the moment you sign a contract with her, so hire her early in your pregnancy.
5. Your doula is an incredible resource.
I wouldn’t say that my doula is my BFF or even good friend, but she is someone I can text whenever about anything. She owns a childbirth education center five minutes down the road from my house.
I’m lucky because she keeps me informed about community events for moms and babies and is the only reason I have mom friends today. If it weren’t for her checking on me postpartum and encouraging me to attend mom groups, I probably would still be lost in the dark!
Still thinking about hiring a doula? Check here to find one in your area.
Need a little more information about why you should hire a doula? Learn more about doulas here.
Did you have a doula at your birth(s)? How was your experience? Comment below!