When you're considering who you want on your birth team, remember to include a doula. Even though hiring a doula can seem like an unnecessary expense in addition to all the other expenses of having a baby, it's perhaps the most essential expense of all. When you're in the thick of labor, feeling like you can't go on, a doula will help you find the strength to be the birthing goddess that you are.
A doula is trained and experienced in labor and childbirth. In addition to education, they've often had the experience of their own birth(s), either at home or at the hospital (sometimes both). Doulas have a true passion for what they do. Because of personal experiences, they want to give women the support and love they either had, or wished they had at their own births. They are a strong part of the movement for more woman-centered care.
A doula is not only a source of information, but provides much needed physical and emotional support during labor. You've already hired a wonderful midwife or doctor, but during your birth they will have their hands full monitoring you and baby as well as documenting the progress of labor. The additional support from a doula can make a huge difference in the length and intensity of labor. There are no guarantees, as mother nature is boss, but preparing for labor with the help of a doula has so many proven benefits.
Any woman who's given birth knows that physical pain directly correlates to her emotional state of mind. The more tense you are, the more it hurts. A simple "relax your shoulders" from your doula is a wonderful reminder to let go of tension. The support of a partner is super helpful, but sometimes they actually need support too. Giving birth is a big deal. A doula will be there to support both of you.
A doula knows that labor can be unpredictable, and that every woman is different, each having their own preferences and challenges to face. What might work for one woman, will not work for another. A doula will come to your birth knowing your birth plan and be equipped to help you relax and roll with the flow of your labor.
Hiring a birth doula and/or a postpartum doula is like giving yourself the gift of self-love. You will get to know her before your birth, and grow to trust in her. Thinking that you can birth all by yourself, with no support from others, might be a little too ambitious. The power to birth your baby will come from you, but it is absolutely necessary to have people on your birth team that will make sure you’re safe, and know what to look for if any complications arise.
Just like midwives, doulas are a gift from above. Finding the right one for you is as easy as interviewing a few before you make a decision. As with every part of pregnancy and birth, trust your instincts. If you feel a connection with a certain doula, she will probably end up being the best self-care item in your birth bag. Find your village and trust the process.
By Christine Rapsys, Writer and Pure Births Mama