Do we need a doula?

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I read about Doulas in What to Expect When You’re Expecting and thought it sounded kind of nice. Then we learned exponentially more about what doulas actually do in our Prepared Childbirth class. After discussing and agreeing that we both thought having extra support during delivery would be a good idea, we asked our Prepared Childbirth teacher for some recommendations on doulas.

For those of you unfamiliar with doulas, they are a support person who helps both the mom and partner during the delivery (and can also help post partum). They are not a medical provider and cannot provide any medical advice during the process, but they can help with understanding terminology, the process and what doctors are recommending during delivery. They can also help with providing physical and emotional support such as reminding the mom to switch positions frequently, putting pressure on mom’s back or shoulders, and supporting the partner too – because even though they aren’t physically going through the delivery, they may still be anxious or stressed. There’s also a ton of research on how having a doula present improves the birth outcome and can reduce labor time, decrease the chance of intervention such as having a C-section or Pitocin, and decrease the need for an episiotomy.

The hospital actually offers a free doula program, but they only have 3 on call at any given time and you don’t get to meet them in advance – so if it’s not a good fit, then you’re just SOL during delivery. And if 3 other moms go into labor first, you are also SOL. Making sure the doula is someone I can tolerate when I’m at my worst (I mean, I can only imagine I’m not going to be the happiest person on the planet during delivery) was super important. It was also important for LW to be able to deal with this person for a long time and not feel like we just had an extra person in the way during a very important time in our lives. So, for us, it was worth paying someone and having peace of mind that it’s someone we will both like for 12-15 hours (average amount of time for labor for 1st time moms).

We met with a doula to see if she was a good fit for us. We spent about 45 minutes chatting with her, understanding how long she’s been doing it, what she’s seen in other births, what kind of support she thinks she provides, etc. She provided us with her contract to review and the whole experience was completely free of pressure. She explained that she’ll stay for the entire birth (unless it’s more than 24 hours and then she’ll have a backup step in), and even an hour or two after to assist with breastfeeding and any immediate post partum support. She’ll also come by in the week after delivery to check on both mom and baby. We both felt good about having her there with us during one of the biggest moments of our lives – so we plan to sign the contract this week and then we’ll start having prenatal visits with her to get to know her better, work on relaxation techniques and prepare for the big day.

A big plus with this particular doula is that she also provides placenta encapsulation services (which we plan to utilize)… so we get a slight discount for doubling up on services with her. More to come on the placenta part later, but for now, know that we have chosen a doula and we’ll have a little extra support in January when little man makes his grand debut!

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