Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To Doula or Not to Doula... This is My Question

I have been doing a lot of research the past two weeks as my son's birthday quickly approaches. He is due in three months this Friday and I want to know everything there is to know about the birthing process. I have bought some great books, have joined groups on Facebook and Twitter geared towards soon to be moms, and I have been doing a ton of internet research. It can be a bit baffling out there with all the contradictory and biased information but there seems to be a few strong points that shine through all the junk. Of those points the ones that I am most interested in are a natural drug free water birth and hiring a doula. Because of my insurance and decisions that were made before I had truly educated myself, I am having Conner in a hospital and from what I understand I have quite a bit of freedom to choose how I want to birth my son.

I am so new to all of this and I am just beginning to make decisions, I feel I need to make sure that I am on the right track with asking for what I want. From what I have read a doula is an extension of me during my son's birth. She will make sure that my needs are communicated to the medical staff, that I am getting the treatment I need, that I understand the process, and that Conner is born in the most natural way possible I have also learned that having a doula present created a much healthier and safer environment because the chance of induction, C-section, tearing, use of narcotics and epidurals, and use of forceps and vacuums goes way down. I was surprised though to see that there was only one practicing doula in my entire area. I live in a pretty decent sized city in Wisconsin and expected to see quite a few pop up in my searches. Regardless, it seems that she would be an awesome addition to "Team Conner".

I guess what I am stuck on is whether or not I can do it by myself. I have read many stories of successful hospital water births with doulas as well as without. I am torn because again I want to make sure that if I do hire her it is the best possible decision. I am a little scared of the entire process and I am one of those people that can only ease the stress with information and research. So I am asking any of you - what were your birth experiences and did you hire a doula? What were your thoughts on the process? What would you have done differently? I would love to hear what you have to say...




Lori at I Can Grow People said...

I did not have a doula. I was(am!) lucky to have a really involved and supportive husband, a great hospital staff and a good attitude--meaning, yes I made a birth plan but I knew that ANYTHING was really possible. Which was good because my son arrived 5 weeks early and I was in labor for over 30 hours. Yes, I did want a drug-free labor, but after 24 hours of contractions I did opt for the epidural so I could have some relief. I would definitely try for a drug-free labor next time around, but I would still choose not to have a doula. Good luck to you! Believe in yourself! Go with what you feel is right for you :)

Nicole said...

I am a doula (from Canada so I'm not trying to sell anything) but I also birthed without a doula and had a birth without interventions (wasn't a doula then but I did have midwives).

A doula does not speak for your or your partner but they will support you and encourage you to advocate for what you want. This is a gentle reminder of what your wishes for birth are. They also meet you prenatally to practice comfort measures, get to know you and your wishes for birth, and can help you practice talking to your health care provider. Doulas work with partners to get them involved in the birth at a level that they are comfortable. If your partner wants to be right in there, then the doula can give your partner suggestions if the need arises.

One thing that I wanted to highlight for you is that a doula provides informational support too. During the birth, the doula can explain some of the procedures the health care provider suggests as well as the benefits, risks, and alternatives to each option. This allows you to make the decision that is best for your family.

Doulas are there to support you in whatever way that might be. If you are doing great in labour, then she may take more of a back seat role and pick up your stuff after the birth, get you drinks or remind you to use the bathroom. If you need extra support, then the doula will help out with suggestions for position changes (to make labour progress or even to help turn a posterior baby). She can provide massage or counterpressure, give your partner the ability to go to the bathroom or eat without feeling guilty for leaving your side.

If you are thinking about it, why not meet with some doulas in your area. Most offer free interviews and you can get the feel for them and see if it would be a good fit. If you don't like them, don't bother. It's your body, your baby, your birth - so do what will for for you!

Feel free to ask me other questions about the role of a doula during birth: nicole.mckay@birthgoddess.ca

Happy birthing!

Reyna said...

As you know, I loved giving birth--both times. I had the midwives at Marshfield/Sacred Heart with Caleb and they are spectacular. I got pre-eclampsyia and toxemia so Caleb had to be induced. This took a couple of days and the midwives and nurses were wonderful. I also had my husband and best friend at the time for support. I personally wouldn't have wanted another person in there. It gets a little crazy at times and more people would be overwhelming. I (again, personally) would rather have someone that is close to my heart in there (sister,friend,etc) for extra support and help, rather than hire a stranger. Now that I think about it, there were two "strangers" in the room when Cailey was born. They were high school girls job shadowing! I made them videotape! But really, looking back, what I remember most is holding my husband's hand and telling him what I needed and he took care of me. That's just my personal experiences. Oh, what fun!!! :)

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