Have you ever heard of a Doula? I had heard of people using a Doula, but I wasn’t sure what the role of Doula entailed. What I did know is that my first labor and delivery was traumatic, and I needed more support the second time around.
How do you find a Doula?
- Word of mouth from friends
- Google Doula Alliance and the name of your town
- Mom groups
What do you look for?
First, look at their services. This might range from support during labor only, prenatal counseling, postpartum counseling, postpartum support(cleaning, child care, food prep), massage, sitz bath, etc…
How many births have they supported?
Then meet with your top three and see who you vibe with best. Remember, this person will see you at your worst and you need to make sure you get along well and feel comfortable.
From what I have researched, the price range ranges from $500-$1500 in my area. You can always get the basic labor support and add other services also (like massage).
Doula’s are not usually covered by insurance.
My Doula Experience
Before Labor: Would I recommend getting a doula? Yes, absolutely. The reason I got a Doula, is because my doctor’s office recently lost all of their midwives due to them moving. I was very disappointed, because they were my team during my first pregnancy labor and postpartum. A doctor, I knew, would not come to my labor unless there were complications. Also, I live so rurally that the doctors on call are often locums aka traveling doctors. By chance that I got a traveling doctor, I wanted someone there that I knew, that was focused on what was best for me and baby, and that would guide me in options for labor.
The first go around, I agreed to every intervention presented to get my son out. I was 42 weeks plus, and I thought that the doctors would support my wish for a natural labor. I was induced for three days in the hospital before I went into labor and even dilated to a 1. Needless to say, it was a long and drawn out saga. Also, it ended with forceps and an epidural. I am thankful for both the forceps for getting my son out quickly and safely. As for the epidural, they are amazing for pain relief. I am thankful for all the staff at the hospital for keeping us safe and healthy. That experience taught me that I need to be more prepared next time. I needed to go into the hospital with plans on how to navigate induction, pain, long labor, etc… This is where the doula came in. Basically I was paying for her experience and verbal support.
For my second child, I dreamed of a natural birth and I knew it would require a lot of preparation in my brain to achieve that. Part of the support would come from the Doula. I met with her twice for one hour prenatal counseling. She helped me process some anxiety and trauma that I had from the first labor. She also helped direct me to resources in the community (massage, tinctures, placenta encapsulation, mommy groups, etc..) Doulas are the hook-up. That is part of what you are paying for. They can make appointments for services that are not necessarily medical needs, but are necessary for your well-being.
My services included the basic package of two counseling session before labor to go over previous trauma associated with labor and a birth plan. Let me tell you that I did not think I had trauma associated with my first labor until I talked with her. I knew that things did not go as planned the first time around, but I thought I was okay with it. Turns out, I really wasn’t and counseling eased some of the anxiety I had lingering from my previous experience. As for the planning, she opened my eyes to all the options for laboring, not just what you learn in the baby class provided at your hospital.
I felt more confident having options and understanding their possible outcomes with the expectation that labor will do as it pleases. I had made a birth plan previously, but I wasn’t confident in how I would do if it did not go as planned. Now, experience plays a huge role in this, so I am aware, but the doula is worth it just for your mental health. She asked me questions alone, and then the second session was with my husband, as he was/is an integral part. Ha, how else did I get here? I will let him speak for himself about what he thought about the doula, but it was helpful for him too.
During Labor: My plan was to go have a natural labor if possible, as I was open to an epidural if I was too uncomfortable or too tired. I requested access to Nitrous Oxide as my only pain intervention. My doula prefaced my labor with the fact that she had one date that she would not be able to attend my labor due to an important medical appointment out of town. She stated that a substitute doula would be available. I agreed to this because 1. The date was after my due date by four days 2. It was February 14th which is Valentine’s Day, and what are the chances? So, naturally, I delivered on Valentine’s Day! Ha! Yes, I had a substitute doula. It was awkward at first because I had never met her, but as my contractions increased, I didn’t even notice her. She was very nice and helpful. She coached me on my breathing and my positions. She also coached my husband on how to ease my pain through massage. On the plus side, she was the same lady encapsulating my placenta(Encapsulating Your Placenta), so she took it with her when she left. Overall it was fine.
After labor: Do I wish my original doula was present? Yes, but it was still a positive experience. My original doula provided two postpartum counseling sessions. She came to my house the week after giving labor. She talked with my to process my labor, to check in with my mentally, physically, and offered to help around the house and with the baby. She provided some herbal remedies for healing the first session. The second session she counseled myself and my husband. She also provided helpful tips in parenting when I asked about going from one to two kids.
The best part of the experience was the counseling. I think I might just start counseling because I liked it so much. I am a pretty selfish person, that also likes attention. It was nice having someone focused mostly on me, and my needs, as much as most people were so focused on baby. Like I said, that may sound bad, but in reality, I have to take care of myself first and heal to be the best mother.
Now, go hire that doula!