Should you hire a birth doula if you plan to have an epidural, need a cesarean or have the support of family and friends?
Whether you have an un-medicated home birth, birth in water at a birth center, plan to ask for an epidural the minute you walk into the hospital doors or have a planned cesarean; a doula is invaluable in providing you and your partner personalized, evidence based information and resources, emotional and physical support and advocacy from before your pregnancy begins to as many as 3 months or more in postpartum.
Mirriam-Webster's Dictionary defines a doula as: "a person trained to provide advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth."
DO I STILL NEED A DOULA IF MY HUSBAND IS ATTENDING?
Doula's do not take the place of your husband or chosen birth partner. We are their doula, too. How many births have they participated in? Will they know when and how to use all the head knowledge they gained when they read the book or took the birth class? We are a knowledgeable tool bag to pull from while they are supporting you in your labor and birth. We offer ideas and suggestions for them to use at the moment it makes sense to use it. We offer encouragement that things are going as they should. We switch out with your partner so their arms can have a break from giving hip squeezes. We help them to advocate for you when you are unable. When things get a little scary, we are right next to them explaining what is happening and what to expect, as we are able. We offer a hand to hold, hugs and prayers.
A doula is a completely different type of support than a loved one
HOW DOES A DOULA HELP IN A BELLY BIRTH (CESAREAN) SITUATION?
A doula can help you the same way for a planned cesarean as a planned vaginal birth. The differences would be, that the day of your "belly birth" your doula will join you in pre-op (if allowed) to help set a calming atmosphere and ease anxieties before you are escorted to the OR; help you to get answers to your questions and take pictures of you and your partner before the birth. After the birth, she will join you in recovery or your postpartum room to help you get settled, take more photos, and help with breastfeeding or pump set-up depending on her training.
EVIDENCE BASED BENEFITS OF HAVING A DOULA
WHAT DOES A DOULA DO?
Personalized education and support
Evidence based answers to questions as they come up
Resources and referrals to other helpful providers
Help with questions to ask during your provider office visit
Learn About: positional changes, comfort measures, right-to-know, right-to-refuse, decision making, advocating for yourself and your baby
Create a birth plan
What to expect in general
Labor & Birth
24/7 Support (physical, emotional and informational)
Help in Advocating
Suggesting position changes to keep labor moving
Suggesting Comfort Measures (massage, encouragement, soothing, ...)
Coaching and Peace of Mind for Birth Partner
Photos as Possible
WHO COULDN'T USE THIS TYPE OF SUPPORT?
There are decisions to be made along the way, no matter the type of birth you opt for, or end up having based on your circumstances. As a birthing woman, you have options before, during and after your birth. In the case of a hospital birth, if you don't know you have options and the right to ask questions or refuse procedures; your birth becomes a process where hospital regulations, protocols and your physicians fear of liability take over the event. Birth becomes a medical procedure rather than a special event. Many times these types of births end with Mama feeling like her birth was "done to her".
DID YOU KNOW...
Maggie Watkins is the mother of 2 adult children. She has over 20 years experience working with pregnant and postpartum families as a private hire doula and prenatal educator. She has a passion for birth and postpartum, along with a strong belief that parents become more confident in their roles the more they are supported and encouraged, without judgement of birth choices; and through the first several days at home with their new baby.