The Case for a Doula

This post is inspired by a question my very-pregnant friend asked me.  She wanted to know if hiring a doula was worth it and asked about my experience with mine.  Like me, she wants to try for a natural, medication-free birth and has been preparing herself by taking Bradley Classes.

This was my response:

When we decided to hire a doula, my line of thinking was… you only get ONE shot at this first pregnancy thing. There is no second chance, and I wanted to give myself the best chance possible for success.  As a first time mom, you don’t know what the hospital is like and you don’t know what medications you should/shouldn’t give your baby.  You’re in labor and not able to think that clearly… I was likely to agree to anything the doctors & nurses suggested.  However, I wanted to make the most informed decisions possible for me and my baby.  A doula has that experience to guide you and tell you what’s coming next from beginning to end.  Knowing what came next helped me stay calm and assured. I felt like I knew what I was doing, even though I had never done this before!!

During our labor, our doula was an invaluable asset. She really guided Sam and I felt soo supported by my husband. He in turn felt like he really contributed and was a part of the birth process rather than a helpless bystander. We felt like ONE and we were stronger for it. When I was in unbearable pain she suggested different positions that helped a lot. When I felt like I needed an epidural she kept me focused and reminded me what I really wanted. She was soothing and patient and fully present.

Then after labor, when the nurses were asking our permission to give Noelle this shot or that shot, we were able to say yes to some and no to others. Some shots are procedural, but not really necessary.  Our doula gave us direction in an unbiased way.  Based on her thoughts combined with what we had learned in our Bradley Classes, we were able to make informed decisions without simply following the status quo.  Our doula also stayed an additional 2-hours post-delivery as a lactation consultant to help our baby latch correctly, so breastfeeding was never an issue for us.  The story doesn’t end there…

Noelle was diagnosed with Jaundice and had to undergo blue-light therapy.  I was upset because her bilrubin levels were only borderline (and my gut sense was that her bilrubin counts were artificially high because she’s naturally yellow due to her Asian heritage).  I did not like all the poking and prodding they were doing to her.  I also felt we could’ve done the therapy at home, but they forced us to stay an additional day at the hospital and Noelle had to have UV-light therapy in an incubator.  The nurses also tried to supplement my baby with formula under the advice of an on-site Pediatrician.  I refused and our doula stood up for us.  If I didn’t have my doula as my advocate I might’ve just said OK to everything the hospital threw at us.  Shoot – what did we know, right?  We were just green, newbie, first-time parents at that point up against “medical professionals”!

Our doula came by every day to check up on us. One night, she even swung by when she was on a date night with her husband! I will forever remember her immense care and concern for us even though she’d done a million births by then. We could’ve just been “another family” to her, but we weren’t.  She treated us like we were the most important thing in her life at that moment because she knew it was the most important time in life for us.  She went above and beyond “the hours” that we paid her. She could’ve just walked out of that hospital 2 hours after delivery and fulfilled her duties, but she did so much more…

In the end, I walked away with an amazingly positive and memorable first birth experience. I look back on that day and smile. It’s ONE day in your entire life. It’s a day you’ll always remember and can never get back. It’s a day I didn’t want to leave to chance, so that’s why we decided to hire a doula.

Not a single regret.

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4 thoughts on “The Case for a Doula

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