If you’re a pregnant mama, you might be wondering whether or not you should hire a doula. A doula is a birth support person who coaches moms through labor and birth. Read on if you want to find out 10 reasons why your birthing experience can majorly benefit from the help of a doula!
There are many benefits to hiring a doula, and if you find the right doula for you, she can literally change the trajectory of your birthing experience.
When I got pregnant, I learned a lot about natural childbirth and wanted so badly to hire a doula, but it just wasn’t in my budget.
As it would happen, soon after, a friend of mine told me she had worked as a doula for years. When she offered her services to me for free, I jumped at the opportunity and never looked back.
That serendipitous event changed the course of my pregnancy and birthing journey for the better. Today I would urge every pregnant mama to hire a doula if you can, because I believe it’s just as important as having the right medical provider for your birth!
What is a Doula?
A doula receives extensive training and education in pregnancy, labor, and birth. She is not a medical provider but rather acts as a support person for expectant parents.
Even if your partner plans to support you during birth, a birth doula can be extremely helpful.
10 Reasons You Should Hire a Doula
1. She helps you prepare for your birth and beyond
Every pregnant women owes it to herself and to her baby to get informed about pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and postpartum life with evidence-based research.
Doulas are a great resource for learning what to expect during pregnancy and beyond. They are required to go through extensive training to get certified, so doulas know a lot and can help point you towards reliable reading materials.
Some doulas also teach pregnancy and childbirth education classes to help you and your partner get prepared for the marathon of birth.
Although doulas can’t give medical advice, they can answer any questions or concerns you might have about your pregnancy, birth, or postpartum life.
2. She can help you create a birth plan
Your doula can work with you to create a birth plan that fits your specific needs and goals. A birth plan helps you visualize the kind of birth you want, and gives you something to aspire to.
It also informs your health care providers of which interventions you’re comfortable with (if any), and which you’d like to avoid.
Of course, birth requires us to be flexible and sometimes plans have to be adjusted at the last minute, but having your desires written out is still an important step. Not only does it empower you by voicing your desires, it also promotes dialogue with your partner and care providers.
3. She advocates for you
Labor and birth require a ton of focus and concentration. For some women, communication can be difficult at these times. Thankfully, you can rely on your doula to act as your advocate while you take care of the really important stuff.
For example, say your relatives show up in the hall outside your hospital room, several hours too early. Your doula can go deal with them while you continue laboring, undisturbed.
If you’re having issues with a medical provider, she can act as your liaison to ensure your voice gets heard. She can also make sure that your consent is given beforehand, for any procedures or interventions your provider says are necessary.
This is especially important in times where the unexpected arises and you and your care providers have to make a choice about how to proceed.
4. She supports your partner–by helping him support you
Many times we don’t consider the important role that husbands play in the delivery room. But in order for him to support you, he needs to be supported as well. Thankfully doulas are up for the job!
My doula helped support my husband by giving him a sense of purpose and direction in the labor room. She showed him how to apply pressure to my hips and massage my lower back, which was a huge help to both of us! In turn, I was able to remain calm and focused because I knew my hubby was being well looked after.
5. She provides physical and emotional support
I leaned on my doula, both emotionally and physically, during my labor. She massaged my back and hips when I needed it, and helped me surrender to the contractions I just wanted to fight against. I honestly feel that I could not have made it without her.
The right doula will bring a calming energy with her into the delivery room. She’ll talk you through each contraction and give you the encouragement you need to carry on. She will also provide any physical support you may need, such as counterpressure and massage, or helping you find optimal positions for labor and birth.
6. You are her main priority
If you give birth in a hospital, chances are, your OB and nurses will be juggling multiple labors and deliveries while taking care of you. Your doula’s main priority, however, is to make sure that you and only you are comfortable and taken care of.
She will stay with you the entire time you labor and birth, to support you with whatever you need.
Although a doula is not a medical provider, she is extremely knowledgeable and can help talk you through the process of labor and birth. For example, she can let you know when she notices you starting transition, and can help coach you through the change in intensity and frequency of contractions.
7. She helps you relax
Your doula will use different techniques to help you stay calm and relaxed through each contraction.
She may guide you through breathing techniques and visualizations, or encourage you to walk around (or even dance!) to keep labor moving.
She can apply a cool cloth to your head and help you stay hydrated. If you’re having a water birth, she can set up the birthing pool and adjust the temperature of the water as needed.
She can also make adjustments to create a more comfortable laboring environment for you. She might dim the lights, diffuse essential oils, or play music to promote a sense of peace and restfulness in the room.
8. She helps you concentrate on your goals
Your doula will keep you moving forward when you want to give up or give in.
If you’re committed to having an unmedicated birth, she will help you focus and relax when the pain becomes especially intense.
By the same token, a doula is able to recognize when a mom really needs pain medication, and can help support you in your decision.
9. She can remain objective
Your doula can remain objective in stressful situations, because she’s not emotionally involved like your family and friends are.
That can be a huge benefit when a laboring mama is experiencing a lot of pain or having difficulty coping. Your doula can stay cool and level headed in these situations, and help you either find strategies to relax or recommend you accept pain relief.
Because she’s objective, she can help you make the right decisions for you, without getting emotional and stressed.
10. Her support goes beyond the birthing room
One of the best things about a doula is that they don’t just abandon you after your baby’s birth. Most doulas will come visit you in your home postpartum, at least a couple times.
During these visits she’ll probably ask you how you’re doing, hold your baby, and talk to you about your birth to help you process the experience. She can also offer breastfeeding support and advice, if needed.
Some doulas provide extra postpartum services, like placenta encapsulation, newborn care assistance, or housekeeping. Each doula offers different services, so be sure to check before you hire your doula.