I don’t know if there were any doulas around when I was having children – 28, 24, and 22 years ago. I do know, however, that I would have hired a labour doula if I could.
1. I read many parenting books, but I don’t think I read anything about birth options. I was like many of my generation, trusting that my doctors knew best. A doula could have rounded out my education. (Don’t get me wrong. I’m very thankful for medical professionals. My first son was born by Cesarean section. The umbilical cord had prolapsed and surgery was necessary. Thankfully, I was able to have two subsequent VBACs.)
2. A doula can help us wade through the vast amounts of conflicting information out there. Especially now, in the Cyber Age, we can feel completely overwhelmed and lost.
3. In no way does pinching her arm prepare a woman for birthing. That’s what partners were encouraged to do at prenatal classes in days gone by to help moms relax through the pain. Yeah, sure! Doulas can help explain the purpose of the contractions before the time comes and can help the labouring woman focus in the midst of it.
4. Doulas have an entire bag of tricks to help the labouring mom cope. What works at one point may not work at another. A doula is flexible and will try a variety of comfort measures as birth draws closer. Sometimes, Mom just needs a reassuring presence. At other times, she may need a very hands-on, physically demanding measure.
5. And who doesn’t like to be the centre of attention, at least when going through something so intense?
6. While labour doulas are primarily present for the benefit of the mom, their presence also benefits family members and friends who may be in attendance. As the doula does her job, she can free up loved ones just to offer encouragement and support in a way they’re comfortable with. Plus, the doula can reassure them that what the mom is going through is nothing to worry about – barring medical issues of course. Even then, the doula can offer encouragement.
7. I had a wonderful nurse who helped with breastfeeding, but if I hadn’t been in the hospital for six days with my first, I might have given up. A doula’s encouragement and knowledge would have been indispensable.