I was a nurse for 7 years before I became a childbirth doula and educator. Hiring a Doula, or Labor Support, can be an investment. If your birth place is a hospital, the support from a nurse and your care provider (Midwife or OB) will be covered by insurance, though often a doula’s services aren’t (though some insurances are starting to reimburse couples!) So why should you consider paying extra money? Here are some reasons to hire a doula from a nurse’s perspective:
YOU ARE NOT THEIR ONLY PATIENT
Nurses often have more than one patient, and maybe even more than normal if they are short-staffed. Nurses constantly have to prioritize their time and if their other patient needs more support or medical care, she/he may not also be able to give you the support you need.
A doula on the other hand has you, her only client, and her job is to focus on you and your partner’s needs.
NURSES ARE BUSY
Helping you cope with your labor, though it may be the most enjoyable part of a nurse’s job, it is not the only part of their job. In addition to multiple patients, they also need to assess, chart, assist co-workers, coordinate care and services with other staff, and keep care providers informed on their patients’ progress. They may also have other responsibilities that do not even involve patient care.
A doula is only busy with YOUR needs. I can’t speak for all nurses, but I know that I appreciated when my clients had someone at their bedside to support them. It gave me more time for my other responsibilities that their support person could not provide, such as giving medication, charting, assessing, calling their doctor . . .
THEY WANT TO CLOCK OUT ON TIME
Nurses work long hours and they want to clock out on time and get home to their families. You could be laboring for hours. They can end their shift with you laboring, but they can’t end it with unfinished charting. I have spent many days, in the past, staying late to finish charting after giving report to my relief nurse.
Your doula does not have a shift, where many tasks in addition to patient care is required before leaving. She is there throughout your labor, birth, and initiating breastfeeding. This is my favorite part of being a doula. I get to be present with my client without worrying about all the other things I still need to do! My only job is to focus on the needs of my client and her partner – not the needs of the hospital, or the care provider, or finishing charting. I did not always get to do this as a nurse.
NURSES WORK IN SHIFTS
Most nurses work at least 12 hours per shift. So, depending on how long you labor for in the hospital, you can potentially have different nurses caring for you.
This is good because you want and need medical professionals that are well rested, so that they can provide the best care for you. However, it can also be distracting and disrupt your rhythm being introduced to a new nurse. Your new nurse will need to assess you and they may do some things differently than your previous nurse.
Your doula will be there once you tell her you need her, and she will remain throughout shift changes to help you refocus and decrease distractions. She will also be able to give your partner breaks, where a nurse may not have time to do this.
THIS IS THEIR JOB, THIS IS YOUR BIRTH
Most likely, your nurse is a labor and delivery nurse because she loves women, birth, and babies. However, this is still her job. Though, they hope for you to have a great birth experience, they also have other responsibilities and loyalties. Nurses have a lot of medical and legal responsibility as medical professionals. As such, they need to follow hospital policy to keep their jobs and to protect themselves in the event of a lawsuit.
A doula is not a medical professional with the same liabilities as a nurse (as long as she stay within her scope of practice). Instead, she is a birth professional that understands birth and how to support women.
GREAT ADDITION TO YOUR BIRTH TEAM
A doula does not replace your supportive partner, care provider, nurse, birth photographer, family, or even friends that you want as part of your pregnancy/labor/birth/postpartum team. Instead, she is a great addition. A doula can help facilitate communication among your team, support your choices, aid in comfort, and provide needed information and resources. We each play an important role in your birth and hopefully your amazing birth experience!
I am a certified doula and childbirth and parenting educator. I practiced as a nurse 7 years before that. For more information about me and my services visit www.MYBirthandBaby.com