If I were pregnant I’d choose to have a doula as part of my childbirth support team. I am a confident woman, who is sure of what I would want during my labour and I have experience and understanding in the medical world. My partner is beyond supportive and my family has experience with their own childbirths. So why do I still feel that I need a doula with me during my labour?
A doula is much more than just another person to help you through your labour. We are trained professionals that are there to support you AND your support team during your pregnancy, labour and postpartum. We don’t replace the people you’ve chosen to be with you, rather we enhance the relationships you have so that you feel connected and strong when you need it most.
My partner is a wonderful man who, someday, will make an incredible father. I know that I will have his full support in the decisions that we make and that he’ll be there for me 100%. That being said, he’ll most likely just go with the flow. Childbirth is not his passion, and so he still has a lot to learn. As do we all. But he probably won’t be the type to ask our doctors and nurses to give us space or to stop asking if we want interventions. He’ll listen to what they have to say (as he should) but probably won’t ask for more information if they have suggestions. And honestly, in the middle of everything, will I? It’s hard to say no when you’re in pain and all you want is to have your baby with you as soon as possible.
Our doula would help to facilitate conversations with our health care team. They’ll ask if there is time to discuss other possible options and give us space to make the decision ourselves. They probably would’ve already had these conversations with us during our pregnancy, and so can remind us of the benefits and risks of what’s being offered. Even I, with the knowledge and experience I have, would still need someone else to remind me of everything so we could truly give informed consent. They’d make sure that I’m not in the middle of a contraction when being asked if I want medication or an epidural for pain relief. They will keep my partner focused on our birth plan and wishes and will give us suggestions on how to help stick to it as closely as possible. They’ll also help us to continue to feel confident and strong if we need to change our plan.
My mother has gone through three childbirths. She also has nursing training and is confident speaking to medical professionals. She probably knows me and understands my wishes better than any one. She also hates to see her baby girl hurting. As much as she understands why I would want a natural childbirth, I know it would be hard for her to watch me be in pain.
Our doula would learn before hand what our values are and what are wishes would be when it comes to our care during our labour. She’ll be able to remain unbiased and so can focus on getting us through difficult moments during our labour rather than trying to get me pain free as quickly as possible. They also understand that every labour, just like every child, is different. They have training in how to support you no matter what, whether your labour is “stalling” or you’re experiencing back labour, or if everything you had planned needs to be thrown out the window.
A doula is also an amazing support for your support team. Childbirth can be exhausting for everyone involved. Having a doula by your side allows your family to rest when they can, knowing that you won’t be left unsupported. Your doula will remind them to eat, so that they will have energy to hold you up after a long labour. They’ll also provide suggestions on how your family can help you. Nobody loves you more than the people you’ve chosen to be with you in this special moment. Your doula will help them to be as present as possible so that you’ll feel loved and you can get that oxytocin flowing!
There’s all the support you’ll get after your baby has arrived too. Especially here in Central Newfoundland, there is limited resources available to mothers and their families. And often, the resources that are available are quite a distance away. Imagine having personal postpartum care, right in your home. This includes breastfeeding support; support that often dwindles after you’ve left the hospital. It’s also someone that you can talk to, without judgment, about the struggles you might be having. They have a great list of people you can reach out to if your needs go beyond their area of expertise.
Now, I am a science brain. Statistics are what make sense to me, and the statistics about doulas are incredible.
Women who had continuous support from a doula during their labour had a:
- decrease in the use of pain relief medication
- decrease in admission of their newborns to hospital for medical care
- decrease in the use of Pitocin
- decrease in the risk of Cesarean birth
- increase in spontaneous vaginal birth
- increase in satisfaction with their birth experience
- shorter labours
- higher breastfeeding success
- decrease in the rate of lower APGAR scores for their babies
- the list goes on…
For me it’s a no brainer. The way I look at it, a doula is just another tool in my tool box. I’m going to want to do everything possible to hopefully have a positive birth experience and having a doula will help me do that. They know the science and they know the emotional stuff that comes along with it too. I can’t say no to something that has been proven to be beneficial for me and my someday baby, no matter what our birth looks like!