Doula. DOO-LAH. Doodly doo-la. It's a goofy word, Greek for "Women's Servant". But I'm here to tell you, doulas are nothing to joke about (BUUUUT I will forever see it in my head as doodly doo-la now!) Here are 10 reasons why you should hire a doula for your hospital birth:
1) Doula = Educator. Your doula is a phenomenal resource as you prepare for your birth. Maybe you have an essay of questions floating around in your head, just adding to your insomnia. Or maybe you don't even know what your questions should be. You might feel bombarded by all the choices and debates: to hat or not to hat? Natural or epidural? Hep B vaccine immediately after birth, or wait a bit? Put baby skin to skin, or leave under the warmer? It all can be a little overwhelming, yes? Your doula won't dish out medical advice, but she can provide evidence-based information and refer you to some interesting studies. The goal is to empower you to make the choices that are right for you... not the choices that were right for your chatty neighbor who's had two totally amazing births and one that was just so horrific, but somehow she loves describing it to you in explicit detail and warning you that probably the exact same scenario will happen to you, too.
2) Doula = Labor Support.So here's the thing. I've witnessed gobs and gobs of births. I've attended home births, hospital births, birth center births, surgical births, water births, land births, hypnobabies births, bradley births, natural births, epidural births... you name it! And in every case, the determining factor in achieving a successful birth is a supportive team. And when I say "successful", I don't mean that baby eventually came out, and with a clean bill of health. I'm referring to mom's emotional health and wellbeing. Because though medical providers are aiming for "healthy mother, healthy baby", mom's recollection of the labor process and birthing experience matters. And every woman needs to be supported, encouraged, and comforted in her own way. Doulas are also so amazing with guiding breathing techniques and helping mommas to address discomfort, and even malpositioning of baby. Sometimes all that's required is a change of position. Sometimes gentle Rebozo sifting is helpful.
3) Doula = Communicator. "When did your labor begin?" "How far apart were your contractions?" "What is your pain level?" "Did your waters break?" "Have you eaten today?" "What is your pain level?" "Do you have a birth plan?" "Are you okay with the hospital's standard newborn procedures?" "What is your pain level?" Depending on how progressed your labor is, you might not feel much like conversing. You may not want to check in with your "pain" regularly. You may be asked the same questions multiple times, particularly if there is a shift change with the staff. If you feel overwhelmed, your doula can often help field questions in both directions, so you can focus completely on your labor. Doulas also help to prepare parents in advance to self-advocate for their choices.
4) Doula = Bouncer. Let's say, hypothetically, you don't want a gaggle of people in your delivery room. In fact, this is your number one reason for not hiring a doula. Consider this. If you're looking for a more private hospital experience, and aren't keen on having every staff member clomping through your room on the reg with students in tow, you might consider asking a doula to serve as a bit of a traffic filter. She can also tell folks to pipe down and please speak in whispers. This makes a tremendous difference in the birth experience!
5) Doula = Birth Partner Support. Birth Partners and Dads need doulas, too! Check out this adorable clip of Dax Shepard if you don't believe me (and please excuse his references to "car crash" and a disassembled wife. Men, I tell ya!) And on another birth partner-related note, it's important to relay that having a doula does NOT make them obsolete! If you'd prefer for your birth partner to rub your back, your doula will happily step back and instead support him/her in better supporting you. My husband, God bless him, feels utterly confident in supporting me when the time comes. But the fact of the matter is, he doesn't know what laboring women need. My doula will help to guide him and re-up his confidence once he realizes I'm a monster in labor. (This is all hypothetical, of course).
6) Doula = Massage Therapist. Your amazing doula knows just how to apply counter-pressure, relieve some of your back labor, and help you to relax as much as possible through your contractions-slash-pressure-waves.
7) Doula = Mind Reader. Even when you can only utter an "Ehhhhh-ggghh-aaarrr-kehhh", your doula probably knows what you need. A cool towel on your neck? Check. A bit of fragrance on your oxygen mask? She's got it. A foot rub? Done. Help with a contraction on the way to the bathroom? Word. Hating your position and need help finding a new one? It's in the bag. Sometimes she knows just what you need, even when you don't.
8) Doula = Cheerleader. At some point, you might have a tinge of doubt in yourself. You may feel scared. You may wonder if what you're feeling is normal. Your doula is there to remind you that you are strong and powerful, and your body knows exactly what it's doing!
9) Doula = Statistical Success. A doula can reduce your odds of having a cesarean birth.
"Compared with women who had no continuous support, women with companions (such as a doula) who were neither on the hospital staff nor in the woman's social network were:
- 28% less likely to have a cesarean section
- 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed up labor
- 9% less likely to use any pain medication
- 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively."
10) Doula = Boob Guru. Many doulas are also Certified Lactation Consultants. They're able to give you one-on-one consistent and dedicated support and help you to get just the right latch! Breastfeeding does come with a bit of a learning curve for both mom and baby, and having a partner to help troubleshoot issues as you're presented with them will boost your confidence and success in breastfeeding.
Man, I feel like I could use a doula sitting here with me right now, as I write this article. Not for my boobs, silly. I don't have a baby. I'm talking about foot rubs and fragrance and encouragement! They're pretty amazing, yes?! So, if I've convinced you that a doula is worth having, here are some doulas I've worked with personally at births and would recommend highly. I'd love for you to sit down and chat with them to learn more:
Doulas Serving Denver:
Doulas Serving Northern Colorado:
Doulas serving Colorado Springs:
10 Reasons to Hire a Doula for Your Hospital Birth :: Denver Birth Photography