Birth is a mother’s moment to shine. No one should take that away from you. You are the hero of the story. It’s not about whether you take an epidural or give birth without medication. It’s about how you have loved this baby and grown this baby to the point of being ready to enter the world. Birth is the culmination--and it is the mother who delivers. Birth is the beginning--and it is your arms that will welcome your child. You deserve to be celebrated because you are amazing.
These days, many pregnant women have at least heard of doulas, perhaps because a friend used one or because they have read about doulas on the internet or in a book. More people now understand what a doula does (provide physical, emotional and informational support during pregnancy, labor and birth), although my husband’s grandma still thinks I deliver babies. (The discussion usually goes like this: “Grandma, I don’t deliver babies, I provide support to the mama as she is delivering her baby.”)
Unfortunately, it is still very difficult to be reimbursed by your health insurance company for doula care, although some people have been able to negotiate with their insurance to cover at least some of the cost. This leaves most expecting parents paying for their doula out of their own pocket, at a time when there are many other extra expenses, both for medical care and baby gear. It’s easy to decide that doula care would be nice, but it’s simply a luxury you can’t afford.
Even if your budget is tight, there are some really excellent reasons to consider prioritizing hiring a doula, including the three listed here.
1) You will remember your birth forever.
For most women, the birth of their children will be the single most remembered event of their entire life. They will spend more time telling their birth story than any other story from their past. My mother and grandmother still recount details surrounding the birth of their children. Because of the long-lasting impact of these memories, it’s worth investing in creating a good memory before and during your birth. Women who use doulas tend to have more positive memories of their birth, even if they faced unexpected challenges, both because of the emotional support doulas provide, as well as the opportunity to know their options and fully participate in decision making.
2) Doulas reduce your chances of having medical interventions during your birth, including surgery.
Several studies have been done showing that doulas reduce the usage of all kinds of medical intervention during birth, including epidural use, pitocin use and cesarean surgery. Avoiding these interventions when possible reduces both potential health complications for mother and baby and health care expenses. As labor is happening, a doula can help you ask your care provider questions to identify necessary--and unnecessary--interventions. She also helps you do things including movement and position changes that facilitate labor progress, reducing your chances of “failure to progress,” which can lead to many interventions. Emotional support from a doula often reduces stress levels which, when high, can inhibit your body from effectively laboring.
3) A doula is typically the only person who can offer both continuous support during labor and knowledge of birth.
Your care providers are trained in medical care of birthing women, but will not be present to provide continuous labor support. Your partner is probably going to be with you throughout labor providing support, but likely does not know the ins and outs of birth. However, a doula has extensive knowledge of the birth process and is present continuously throughout labor and birth providing you and your partner with support. This matters because there are many moments in labor when expecting parents need reassurance that everything’s normal or ideas for how to cope with the challenges of labor. If you have a doula, she will already be there every time those moments happen.
Doula, mother, crunchy minimalist, Christ follower.