Like for many couples, it gets expensive planning for a baby, especially a first. I knew I wanted a home birth. Unfortunately, in Louisiana, if you want a home birth, you are most likely going to pay out-of-pocket. There are necessities, such as birth supplies, midwife, childbirth education, and baby supplies that add up fast. So, when considering a Doula, I cringed when I thought about paying for something else out-of-pocket! We debated this option for many months. However, to reserve a bit of our money for life after the baby came, we decided not to have a Doula.
Well, one of the first things my husband said after my long 21 hour labor was, “We are not doing this again without a Doula!” I couldn’t disagree! Not hiring a Doula is our number one regret. Here are some reasons why:
You don’t know what your labor will be like. Every pregnancy, labor, birth, and child is different. I took Birth Boot Camp childbirth education classes, and I do feel like I was well prepared, as much as I could be as or a first-time mom. The information I learned stayed with me, so much so that many times during labor, my childbirth educator’s voice was in my head. However, it can be overwhelming to remember everything you should be doing while in the labor zone. I just needed someone at the birth reminding me to do what I already knew.
I needed to move more. I wanted the romantic water birth that I had pictured in my head. Since, my contractions intensified quickly, I thought I was progressing faster than I was through labor. I got into the birth pool way too early, and really did not want to go anywhere else. I needed someone pushing me to move more. She may have said, “Hey, this position isn’t working for you, let’s change it up.”
My husband needed a break. I had intense back labor most of my labor, and my husband provided counter-pressure for almost 21 hours. That left him with little time for rest, food, or bathroom breaks. Our midwife and her assistant did offer to relieve him at times, but he was the only one that knew how to give the pressure that I needed, so I wouldn’t let him go far. Doulas have experience with how and when to offer comfort measures, and she might have been able to provide me comfort and my husband a break.
I needed a cheerleader. My husband was behind me most of my labor providing counter-pressure. My midwife and her assistant were assessing, taking vital signs, listening to heart tones, charting, and conserving their energy for the main event. I did not have someone just “holding space”, providing calm encouragement.
I had trouble breastfeeding. My nipples decided to flatten after birth, and I had no clue what a proper latch looked like, despite watching videos and reading books about breastfeeding. So, my midwife gave me a nipple shield, which helped with milk transfer, but not with pain and nipple damage. Around postpartum day 10, I finally saw a lactation consultant, and things immediately started turning around. By 2 months, my son completely weaned himself off the nipple shield. As a Birth Boot Camp DOULA, I now have extra training in breastfeeding. I am also active in La Leche League and have a resource list with lactation consultants. I wish I had a Doula that could have provided this support.
I didn’t have anyone to listen to my birth story. It took me almost 14 months to finally write my birth story. I thought about doing it many times before, but I still hadn’t processed it, so I continued to put it off. If I had a Doula, during my postpartum visit I would have been able to talk about my birth story from beginning to end. My husband, too! He carried around guilt for months thinking he was the cause of my tear. For his perspective, check out my husband’s birth story.
I feel like a hypocrite. I totally understand hesitating to hire a Doula; I’ve been there, done that. I did not hire a Doula for my birth. However, I wish I had. My wish for every woman and couple is to have an amazing birth, and I truly believe a Doula can help you prepare for one. Through my own studying to become a Doula and Childbirth Educator, I realized the importance of this extra support person. A doula does not have the emotional investment, like your partner, or the medical responsibility, like your care provider. They can truly be there to support you, without any other agenda or responsibility to distract them.
I did, finally, write my birth story, and I often wonder how different it might have been with a Doula. However, I am not one to dwell on the past. Lesson learned. Next time, we will have a Doula.
I support families through pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. To check out my classes and services visit MY – Birth & Baby Website!