What exactly does a doula do? It is an Important question for the women who are going to become mothers first time in their life. The process of pregnancy and childbirth requires numerous time-consuming and often difficult decisions. I don’t know about you, but I am already exhausted and this baby hasn’t even been born yet! Can a mama get a break? Apparently not. I’ll be too busy deciding which personal hygiene products are the least likely to give me and my baby cancer in 30 years, picking the safest crib, car seat, high chair, stroller and baby swing, checking and rechecking my baby registry and oh yeah, combing through all the medical articles I can get my hands on. If you’re a first time mom like me then you are likely in the same boat. Today’s goal is to help make one of your decisions a little easier.
Doulas have become something of a hot topic over the last several years. A Doula is someone trained to support a woman through her labor. He/She focuses on the physical as well as mental and emotional wellbeing of the laboring mother. A doula is not medically trained and therefore does not assist with the birth. Doula’s can be excellent resources during postpartum assisting new mothers with breastfeeding and the emotional transition that follows birth. As a first time mom, with a very involved partner, I’m curious as to whether hiring a doula would benefit us? So let’s lay out some of the pros and cons.
Let’s get right too it. The main concern for many people who are thinking about hiring a doula is cost. Cost varies by locality, but averages out at about $1200. Oof! That fee generally covers access to your doula for support and advice for a defined period of time, not just the day of delivery.
Knowledge Of Doula
The most apparent reason for hiring a doula is often their extensive knowledge of birth and pain management. A doula can help ground you by reassuring you that you are doing a good job and that you are capable of having the birth you desire. A partner may be able to have this affect, but some may find it difficult seeing their partner in pain and not know how to provide support during labor.
However, it’s possible that a partner could feel excluded or unneeded as a result of hiring a doula. Make sure your partner knows that they are still critical to your birthing process. Having a partner there will likely allow you to feel safe and relax into your labor.
Doula’s can help advocate for your wishes and provide a calming presence. Feeling secure in your birth environment is essential to a smooth, uninterrupted labor.
Lack of Personal Space
Having a doula in the room means another person in your personal space. Rest assured that any doula worth their weight has seen it all and will not be phased by your need to throw all your clothes in a pile on the chair. Some people may find it difficult to labor effectively with more people in the room than is absolutely necessary.
Scientific Evidence for Continued Labor Support
According to a study published in 2017 by Bohren, Hofmeyr, Sakala et al there are marked benefits to having continuous labor support provided by someone such as a doula. The study showed that women with continuous support during labor were more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth, less likely to be disappointed with birth or to have an unnecessary Cesarean, and less likely to use pain medications if they had not desired to use them. Furthermore, their labors were shorter and postpartum outcomes were positively affected. DONA International published a position paper written by Penny Simkin with similar findings. Continuous labor support is also recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist.
In the end, as with most decisions regarding your pregnancy and birth, the decision is a personal one. If you feel that your partner is capable of filling this role and you are both prepared to stand by your decisions then a doula may not be necessary. However, a doula can be an excellent source of knowledge and support, especially to first time parents. If cost is the deciding factor for you be sure to reach out to a couple of doulas in your area anyways as some will offer their services at a reduced rate.
I am a soon-to-be first time mom and aspiring freelance writer. In my free time I enjoy studying French, reading cozy mysteries, baking and spending time with my husband and our 3 fur-babies.