I’ll admit it. The first time I’d even heard the word doula was during our Bradley Method classes before the birth of our first baby. At the time, my husband and I were rather certain we wanted to handle natural labor and delivery on our own. We make a great team, and thankfully everything went beautifully in our first, second, and third births.
If only we’d have known what we were in for with number four. Oy! I say that in jest, of course, and honestly I’m not sure how the process would have been different with the support of a doula. Curiosity gets the best of me, though, and I’d certainly be open to the possibilities if the opportunity ever presented itself again!
The following guest post, answering common questions asked about doulas, is by certified doula, Martha Artyomenko (CD) DONA
What is a doula?
A doula is a labor support professional who is trained to offer information and comfort measures to women during pregnancy, labor and sometimes even postpartum. She does not offer medical care, but plays a support role for your husband and you, during pregnancy and childbirth.
Won’t the nurses be there for me?
Most nurses are fairly busy with their duties with several patients, and sometimes labors run longer than your favorite nurse’s shift. They will say goodbye, quite cheerily, while studies have shown that a continuous support has reduced labor lengths as well as other many benefits. A doula will be there from the very itty bitty hours of your beginning labor, until the end. She will check in on you afterwards, and be there to phone for weeks on end later after the birth. She is not only there to support you, coach you on how to get through the discomforts of pregnancy, but also for your husband and family.
Will my husband feel replaced by a doula? Won’t he be enough support for me?
Many husbands are wonderful support for their wives in labor, but often some women do not realize the emotional strain it can put on a husband who is watching the woman he loves the most go through the experience of childbirth. A doula is not just there for the laboring mother, but also the father to be. Often coaching a father on how to support his wife ends up bringing the two of them closer together. Also, if a husband struggles with labor, but wants to support his wife, a doula will step in and let him be the husband and not have the pressure of coaching her through every step of labor.
I want to have pain medication, so why would I want a doula?
There are many things about pain medication in labor that have pros and cons, but a labor support person has a role to play in a medicated labor as much as an unmedicated labor. A labor can progress in a smoother way with different positions, encouragement and other support during the labor, even while the mother is feeling no pain, thus reducing the risk of c-section and other interventions.
I don’t have a lot of money, and paying a doula is really out of our budget. Can’t my friend or relative do the same thing for me?
There are some friends and relatives that can do a great job as a labor support person, and this is better than nothing, but there is something to be said for training! A doula undergoes training as well as a lot of constant study on the topic of childbirth, postpartum women, and different stages of pregnancy. Cost can be an issue for many people, but one thing many people do not know is that many doulas have a sliding scale or offer other forms of payment such as trade.
A doula can be a friend, a confidant. She will set her life aside to be there to answer your questions. She will work very hard to help you to get the birth experience that you desire. Birth has many unexpected twists and turns, some of them beyond your control. A doula can help you to have a more positive experience, no matter what happens.
Have you had the assistance of a doula during pregnancy and labor? Please share your experience!