We’ve written a little bit before about doulas on the site, but we’ve never been able to share personal experiences with one until now. Back when I first found out I was pregnant, I wanted a midwife but couldn’t find one. I thought at least I might be able to find a doula, because that would be better than nothing. I wanted someone, other than my at-times too logical husband, who would definitely be all on my side during labor.
It took me a while, and I actually ended up finding a midwife first, but I was able to find a doula. I wasn’t sure if one would be overkill in addition to having my midwife, but she’s the one who recommended not only doulas, but mine, Stacy, in particular. Because my area isn’t large enough to have its own birthing center, the two midwives in my county have to work out of a regular medical practice. That means they’re required to continue to see patients when I’m in labor, so they’re unable to be with us through the whole process.
That’s why I chose both a midwife and a doula: I can be an anxious person, and going into the unknown of childbirth freaked me out sometimes. Midwives and doulas approach labor differently than most doctors: they’re focused on the mother as well as the baby, and recognize the mental and emotional components to labor in addition to just the physical/medical.
I’m not against medical intervention in all cases, and I’m not committed to natural childbirth. But I want care that would only intervene when absolutely necessary, not just because that’s the more common medical practice now (which is, unfortunately, very common in the United States). Midwives are still trained medical professionals so they know when to intervene, and when to hand cases over to the doctor, but as long as I remain a low-risk pregnancy, why receive care designed for higher risk?
Because I’m one of the midwives’ many, many patients (they’re so popular at our practice they’re currently training a third midwife), Stacy my doula is a godsend. She would be anyway. She and I meet regularly just to chat, so we can get to know one another and feel comfortable before birth. If I’m ever feeling anxious about any aspect of childbirth, she’s there for me. She’ll be there from the moment I’m in proper labor up until after I deliver, and although she will not perform postpartum doula services, she’ll still come by to see me and the baby afterward. If I should end up requiring a C-section, she’ll stay with me afterward while my husband goes with the baby.
Her main job is to make sure I have the best possible, most positive labor experience, whatever that entails. Some doulas might be pushy, but Stacy means what she says. If I end up wanting an epidural to make my labor more positive, she is completely behind that. Knowing that Stacy will be there – a calm professional who has been through this many times before, but who is also so sweet and supportive – makes me feel so much better about the whole process. Now I know I have multiple people looking out for me.
I highly recommend getting a doula to anyone interested. They can be expensive depending on your area, so consider looking into one finishing their training. They need a number of labor hours in order to receive their certification, and then their fee could be low, or waived entirely.
*(The above image by David Castillo Dominici is from freedigitalphotos.net).