I attended a birth the other day for a first time mom and dad. Neither of them had family nearby and hired a doula so that they would have some support during labor. It was an enlightening birth for me and while I feel the mom had a positive experience, I came away with a lot of thoughts and feelings.
One of the biggest reasons I hear against hiring a doula is that a mom will have her own support. Dad will be there and maybe she’ll have a sister or close friends with her as well. But dad has never given birth. And if you’re a first time mom, neither of you know what to expect. Family and friends are a great support system, but they aren’t unaffected. They may get emotional. They may not be prepared for the rigors of labor. A doula, like your medical care team, is professional, unbiased, and able to offer you insight and knowledge while remaining calm.
Unlike your medical care team, though, a doula is non medical support. We won’t be contradicting your doctor and we won’t tell you medically what to do. But your medical team is also not a constant. At this most recent birth my client was never attended to by the doctor she had seen for her prenatal care. She saw a total of 3 different primary nurses in her stay at the hospital. Even the doctor that she had connected with, who wanted to deliver her baby, was off duty by the time pushing came. In total, my client had 9 separate people involved in the birth of her baby, many of them rotating in and out and only appearing for the end of the stretch.
This is where a doula shines. This is why a doula is necessary. I was there the entire time she was in the hospital. I was the familiar face offering support and knowing her choices. Any time a new nurse came on shift they had to review her birth plan and be made aware of my client’s individual choices. I knew her desires and what she wanted for her birth and I wasn’t going anywhere. While I wasn’t the medical support like the rest of her team, I still had experience. I’m like her – as a first time mom, and a birth professional, I knew what could happen during her labor. I knew better what to expect and could help her through that.
A doula is the middleman – not in the sense that she will communicate for you to your doctor, but in the sense that she bridges the gap somewhere between close friend and medical support.
Birthing babies can be traumatic. It is hard. And with a rotating cast of medical characters you and your birth partner can feel alone.
That’s where I come in.