My honest take on it…
You know the funny thing is that if you had asked me several years ago, even I didn’t understand what a doula was. I may have told you that it was an extravagant way to have someone at your beck and call during labor. Something I assumed that a mother, sister or friend should do for you but could be bought at a fee.
What I didn’t realize is that our culture doesn’t work that way anymore. We are surrounded by women who love us and may want to be there, but aren’t equipped with the information to help us through our labor. I didn’t realize that my upbringing was not the norm. Now I get it, and want to share my experience to benefit you.
There have been so many changes to women’s role in our society. Through history, girls were raised with the presence of pregnancy and birth as a NORMAL part of everyday life. There was an awareness of how things worked and how to birth that became innate and understood by the time a girl was ready to become a mother. But now we are suddenly unprepared. We have careers and separate lives, not the lifestyle that exposes us birth. While we all still have that potential, most of us have not had the experiences that would prepare us for having a normal birth. Our experience sometimes come in horror stories from friends, fear of pain and fear of loss. All of these are very real, but they don’t need to be the norm. Certainly not the focus. Birth is a normal part of life and you can have a normal experience.
A doula comes prepared with information and experience to give you the very best chance at achieving your normal birth. From different positions that may speed up labor, pressure points and other ways to cope with pain and just the confidence that someone is with you the whole time. What many first time mom’s don’t realize is that your Doctor is not always there. Rarely is the OB there for more than a few ‘status’ checks and the final stage of pushing and birth. But you have the nurses, right? True, but you meet your nurse when you get to the hospital. What if your personality completely clashes? She reminds you of your infuriating Aunt Jean and it immediately throws you off. Well, you may not have to worry long considering the timing of shift changes. During my last labor with my fourth child I went through six, yes SIX, nurse changes. While they were all lovely women doing their job, it was quite the distraction and each time they had a different way of doing things. Confusing. And they are responsible for a whole hallway of laboring women. That doesn’t really give them much ‘quality time’ with you.
When hiring a doula you have the opportunity to know who you are getting and finda personality that will encourage and support what you need. Not just who is on call at the moment.
And what about your husband? As a doula, it is not my job to take his place. My hope is to encourage him in taking his role to support you, working to help the two of you to maintain your emotional connection throughout the birth. The best thing I can hear is a mother saying “My husband was amazing!” before they even mention anything about my involvement. It’s my job to guide him through the birth with you, staying in the background unless you chose for me to be at the forefront. I hope to be a calming presence of strength he can rely on and take the pressure of remembering all those little details off of him.
So, I will tell you, hiring a DOULA is not just a nice little gift to yourself. It is a valuable decision to give yourself a better birth. Like having a trainer for a marathon, instead of just reading a book beforehand. While birth is normal, it is also unpredictable and having a doula puts you in a position of strenth and confidence before you even step into the hospital.