A midwife is a wonderful addition to your birthing team, either in or out of the hospital, however, because they are medical professionals they are responsible for many tasks outside of direct support leaving a potential gap in care. Your doula can fill that gap. As doulas we have the privilege of not performing any medical tasks. As a result, we are not responsible for tracking and charting, preparing tools, or watching a clock. This allows our entire focus to be on the birthing parents.
Obstetricians can also be pivotal in your birthing experience as needed, but what most people don’t realize is that they work on a rotation, so depending on how many OBs are on your hospital’s rotation, there could be a very slim chance that the doctor you
hired will actually attend your birth. Even if your doctor is present, he or she will spend very little time in your room and is there primarily to catch the baby. Even the labour and delivery nurses have medical responsibilities, and work on a shift rotation. A doula is the only guarantee of continuous, focused support.
A family member can be a great support during your birth.
There are some perks to having a Doula in lieu of, or in addition to a family member (not your partner). A Doula is an educated resource, even if he or she has read a book they just don’t have the same level of knowledge or experience that a Doula has in a
very unique environment. As well, because you have a professional, paying relationship with your doula, you are much more likely to ask her to do the things you need. Because your family is there voluntarily, sometimes they’re willing to do the fun stuff, but not get in there when things get a bit messy.
As an outsider, a doula also doesn’t have any of the baggage or
expectations that family often has which means nothing gets taken personally, and old grudges, or new hurt feelings just don’t come into play.
2) We’ve been to class, and practiced our breathing, so we know what to do.
Many students attend class every day of the semester, do the homework and still fail, or do poorly on the exam because of the added stress. Wouldn’t it be great to have your own personal cheat sheet so that when things get intense, she can keep you on track? There’s also no possible way that everything could, or should be covered in a few days of class, doulas are great at filling in the gaps.
3) A doula is a stranger who will intrude on this intimate and private moment.
As you have interviewed your doula and met with her a couple times prior to the birth she is no longer a stranger. You have shared your fears and hopes and desires with her and have put faith in her that she will help you through.
Secondly depending on where you chose to birth, it won’t be particularly private. A hospital birth can have nurses and doctors and residents coming in and out as well as anyone you have in your birthing party. A doula can help you maintain peace in that environment through music and focus, by helping you ignore some of the background stuff, and explaining the importance of others.
4) I already have a baby so I know what to expect.
My mother had six children, and my partner is one of 10. According to both moms, none of those births were the same. Every birth has its own quirks and its always helpful to have someone who knows all the versions of “normal”.
5) A doula will protect me from the hospital staff, or interfere with medical advice.
A doula’s role is to be the resource not the source which is why just as much of a doula’s job takes place before the baby is ever born. It can be hard to know where to go for good information, how to interpret the information you’re given, and to know what you need to know. A doula can be very helpful in providing you with reliable well rounded sources, and teaching you how to determine if what you’re reading is accurate. What this does is empower you to know if the medical advice takes everything that’s important to you in account or if you need more information. It also allows you to work effectively with the hospital staff instead of feeling like you’re on opposite teams.
6) A doula looks down on births in a hospital setting and really wants all births to be at home.
Just like labouring moms, all doulas have environments where they feel most comfortable. There are some who will only do homebirths, and others who will only work with midwifes, however, all of the doulas on our team believe in working with any family, wherever they feel most comfortable, and with whichever care
provider they feel is best suited to them.
7) A doula will not support the use of pain medication during labour and will leave if I get an epidural.
A doula is there to support the needs and wishes of the client.
Our goal is to provide you with the resources so you can best determine what choices you would like to make, and if you choose to make different ones along to road, to make sure each decision is an informed one. It is not our place to make those choices for you, in fact there are many doulas who have out of preference, or necessity, birthed with various forms of pain medication themselves.
8) I have to breastfeed to have a doula.
The primary responsibility of our doulas is to ensure that you have all the information you want and support you in your choices. We support breastfeeding/bottle feeding/ both, circumcision/non circumcision, caesareans, epidurals, etc. provided you feel
that you have enough information to make an educated decision.
And we support helping you find more information if you need it. Our personal choices should never be a factor.
9) All doulas are the same, they wear long skirts and Birkenstocks and support only “alternative” methods.
Anyone who has met me knows that there couldn’t be anything further from the truth. People come to doula work from all walks of life, with all different philosophies and backgrounds. Yes there are some who are more “crunchy” than others, this is why we generally set up 2-3 phone interviews to start. That way you can find the person who best fits your personality and lifestyle.
10) I can’t afford a doula.
Spread out over a 32 to 34 week span (assuming you don’t find out about your pregnancy until approx. 8 weeks), the average cost of a doula is approx. $3.50 to $5.50 a day. That’s probably less than what most couples spend on a Timmy’s coffee on their way to work each day.
If it’s still a struggle, we have gift certificates, or we can set up a fund that your friends and family can make a donation to as one of the best shower gifts.
Also many people spend as much, if not more on nursery furniture, or a stroller or many unnecessary baby accessories, something a doula can help prevent. If a doula is truly worth it to you, you’ll find a way.
11) A doula would interfere with the bond between my partner and myself in labour.
I have known many couples in my life, and very few of them work in tune with each other. This isn’t to say that they don’t want to be helpful to each other, sometimes they just don’t seem to speak the same language, or do a very good job of reading each other’s minds. The more intense and important the situation, the more difficult this seems to be. What if you could have a translator and a coach at the same time? Not someone to take over, but rather someone who understands what she’s trying to say, or what she needs and can tell you, in your own language, how you could help give it to her? That’s what a doula does. She doesn’t stand between partners, but rather, sometimes builds a bridge.
Even if this isn’t you, even if you’re super connected, it can be helpful to have someone to ease through the background stuff to allow that connection to flourish, and to allow each of you moments to regroup and recharge.
By Angelina Quinlan Kiwanuka