In the course of preparing to give birth to my daughter, some choices were tough: deciding what comfort measures I wanted to use during labor, settling on a name for the baby, and figuring out what to do if the worldwide pandemic messed up X / Y / or Z part of the plan.
But one decision in particular was easy: I knew I wanted to hire a doula.
If you’re wondering why I would hire a doula, I see where you’re coming from! Aren’t you a doula? Don’t you already know what you need to know? Or have what you need to have?
Sure. But that’s not what a doula is for.
A doula walks with you each step of the way through pregnancy, labor, and birth. When you hire a doula, you are certainly hiring someone who knows a lot about birth and probably has some helpful tricks or tools up their sleeve. But most of all you’re hiring a professional birth worker whose focus is on supporting you, the parent(s).
I wanted a doula because I wanted to round out my team – a team that was made up of a midwifery group I knew and trusted, a hospital I knew and trusted, friends and family who were rooting us on every step of the way – with an individual who was trained and committed to providing us with continuous, nonjudgmental labor support, our doula.
Imagine the comfort you would receive from having a skilled coach or cheerleader for a hugely transformative life experience! It’s no wonder that doulas are associated with shorter labors, less anxiety for people giving birth, fewer c-sections, and more positive feelings about births (see this article or this overview for more).
And while this post is meant to emphasize why I hired a doula, I want to take a moment to tell you how grateful I am for that decision. During pregnancy, our doula helped us work through the birth preferences sheet my provider gave me to fill out. She helped us rehearse comfort measures. And she walked with us through the turmoil and confusion that surrounded the upcoming birth experience as the covid-19 pandemic swept the country. During birth, she helped us gather information for in-the-moment decisions; worked with me through exercises; and stood by us for every emotional twist and turn. I am filled with gratitude for the ways our doula was present for us with educational, physical, and emotional support.
So, the most valuable and precious part of having a doula isn’t access to their knowledge or their bag of supplies. It is their companionship as you go through a transformative experience in your life. You can know all the things, or have all the things, but you can’t be your own support person. That’s why I hired a doula.
Happy World Doula Week!