How will you be supported when you give birth? It’s an important question to think about. Your birth partner can be your spouse, your mom, your best friend, a doula, your mother-in-law, your sister, etc. You best know the people that make you feel loved, comfortable and relaxed and those who are respectful of your birth wishes.
With my first birth, I had my mom and my husband and they both were exactly the support I needed. My husband attended all but a couple of my midwife visits prenatally and was also able to attend most of my childbirth preparation classes. My mom did a lot of research and reading prior to my birth (including all of the HypnoBirthing book) to be prepared for what labor would be like and the best ways she could support me.
This time around, I choose, just recently actually, to hire a doula. Originally we didn’t feel the need for one but as the date looms (33 weeks pregnant currently), I was feeling like it would be really beneficial this time. One of the big reasons we began discussing this was because we both were feeling sad about Marcella not being a part of the birth. We just didn’t feel comfortable having her at the birth, though, as she may be bored and it would hinder my mom and husband from helping me. With a doula, we would have a third person to help with Marcella and to give my mom or Josh the ability to help Marcella with anything that may come up during the birth. Another big thing was the fact we don’t have any pictures during my last birth which always makes me really sad. My mom and husband were just much too occupied with helping me and being part of the moment to remember and think to take pictures. Doulas are great for taking pictures.
Of course, doulas do a whole lot more than just helping with an older sibling and taking pictures. I’m excited for the assistance my doula will be able to offer me and also my mom and husband. A good doula will want to step back and let your partner (or partners in my case) shine, helping him/her know what to do to best help you. I think of my doula as my knowledge base. She knows a lot of about childbirth and she can utilize it to best help me and my birth team achieve the best birth possible.
Your care provider has a job to do and, most likely, you won’t see them for most of your birth depending on the type of provider you choose. A doula will be there the whole time, including meeting with you at your home before heading to your place of birth if you are using a hospital or birth center. A lot of doulas can even do internal checks to see how far along you are (and sometimes they even catch babies. :))
If you are choosing a hospital birth, I would say a doula is even more important. She can determine when is the best time to leave for the hospital based on your wishes and greatly facilitate and act as a liaison between you and your husband and the hospital staff. Likely, she also knows the best nurses and has relationships with some of them even, further smoothing the way for you.
As for services included, they will vary from doula to doula. Typically you will meet at least once prior to your birth to go over your wishes for the birth and to get to know each other. You also generally can ask questions via phone, email, etc. throughout your pregnancy. There are some things that seem silly to bother your care provider about so it’s nice to have another knowledgeable person to discuss these things with. As mentioned above, a doula will come to your house when you are in early labor and can help you figure out if you are indeed really in labor or not and can assist you with comfortably laboring at home if you would like and knows when to leave for the hospital/birth center. Some doulas also offer breastfeeding and postpartum support.
Our area has a lot of great doulas to choose from fortunately. It’s best to interview several to get an idea of who you connect best with and who most aligns with your birth philosophy. A doula may look great on her website but maybe in person you just don’t click. It’s really important that you have someone that you will feel comfortable with while in labor so meeting in person is important to make sure that you will.