Sunday, December 2, 2012

Doula Get It?

Okay, I know I have a lot of doula friends, so I don't want this to come out as offensive at all. That is not the intent in any way, shape or form. But, I just have a few questions on why people have doulas.

Many of my friends tell me they have one to offer them the support during labor, etc. I mentioned this to my adorable Sammeriffic a few babies back and asked if he would want one and honestly, it hurt his feelings. His perspective is that HE is my support and HE wants to be the one who is there for me. He feels like a doula would be replacing him at worst and getting underfoot at the very least and that bothers him. I hadn't seen it from that perspective, but once he expressed that to me I totally got it.

Also, we are both rather private about certain things and I don't know that either one of us want another person hanging out with use while my lady bits are getting pummeled and honestly, I would be one who would be very uncomfortable with a doula announcing labor and delivery online with pictures are all that. (I see this all the time on facebook and honestly, I just cringe each time. I know this is probably not just a way to celebrate a baby but also a great way to promote business, but I still wouldn't want someone posting that before I could.)

I don't really know what the privacy standard is on such a thing, but for us we have concerns about this, mostly based on Sambo's job (smart cops never tell the criminals when they'll be super distracted and possibly unarmed if they can help it) and also because we don't even tell half our family when we have a baby until it has been a few days so if someone else blows the secret it would be frustrating. I also wouldn't enjoy hearing my birth story being retold to a crowd or even to one person by someone who isn't me or Sam. I can't explain why, I just feel that way.

I think I understand what a doula also offers besides what I mentioned above: advocacy for a mother and father during and right after labor, an extra set of hands and coaching and know how on all sorts of topics. I think that benefits a lot of families.

For us however, we are really good at advocating for ourselves and Sambo has been amazing at knowing when to take point during labor so I could just focus on birthing a baby and we tend to be very prepared ahead of time so we don't really need any extra hands during labor (Sam knows just when to make the fast food run, heh heh) and I know that when it comes to my particulars in pregnancy that we know them inside and out.

I think doulas also help at home (or maybe that is a separate service), but again, we have always happily handled that on our own too. I cook freezer meals in advance (and with the dietary restrictions around here that is the best way to do things), my mommy handles the kids while I'm in labor and then Sammy heads home and I enjoy being alone with a newborn until he picks me up to go home (I love that day of quiet, it helps me prepare to be home with the herd again). We've never had people stay with us to help and hubs has always had to return to work within 3 days (and we don't expect much different this time) and honestly, I'd rather just get back in the game. I do have a little help with piano lessons from my mom, but that is really about it and I don't know what I would do if I had another person in my house that I had to entertain. It just sounds rather stressful to me.

So, for a person who has an incredible support person during labor, is prepared for everything during and after, doesn't need help sorting out feeding and diapering a baby and who won't need food made, what would a doula offer? It is okay if the answer is, "Nothing, you don't need a doula." I suspect that is the answer and I'm really okay with that. I just want to see if I'm missing something.

On the other side, for the person who maybe had a partner who would value an extra set of hands, someone to advocate for whatever labor wishes they have, who knows some great tips and tricks on newborns and who could use the assistance after baby arrives, please, tell me more about how a typical doula job goes. I'm sure I know others who are curious and sometimes it seems so mystical and undefined. I like definitions and black and white a lot so I'd love to have that information to share with others.

Now, I'll be honest, I'm not looking for a reason to hire a doula. I've had many babies so far without one and I really think it would be more stressful than beneficial to add a new element to the entire experience, but I want to make sure I've looked at every angle and I'm not missing something critical in this decision. Also, I like to refer doulas to those who want one, but because I've never actually had one I'm not really sure what makes a doula a GREAT doula. I would like to know this.

I think doulas are very very useful to many people, I'm just not fully sure I understand the job and I am pretty sure even the very best doula would not have much to do in my specific case. Does that makes sense?

Thanks for humoring me and again, everyone know I'm not intending to offend, so if I have at all, know it is accidental and just me stumbling over my words. Thanks for any insight you can give me.


  1. Christine Sheets NutileDecember 2, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    You already have your doula(s) in Sambo and your mom. ;-)

    I love my DH (Ron), but frankly he's never the best at remembering my preferences on the simplest things. And during a birth, he just freaks out. I love him. But we both know that he's not cut out to provide support during births -- even of his own babies.

    I use CNM's. But they have other patients and charting responsibilities. I need someone to hold my hand, rub my back, suggest positioning changes, etc. My births never go according to plan. I like having a gate-keeper to protect my space and make my wishes known as new staff comes on w/ shift changes and breaks.

    I've also had my older sibs attend my births. Doulas help settle and entertain older kids. They can act as birth photographers. And I've even given permission for my doula to provide updates to my online friends and family.

    Ron doesn't always get to take time off for a new baby. I've had post-partum complications so my midwives don't want me alone w/o adult supervision for very long in those first few days. My doula has come to my house to stay w/ me and mine as needed.

    I've always gotten to know my doulas over the course of the pregnancy. So by time the birth comes along, it doesn't feel like she's a stranger -- or someone I need to entertain.

    Every birth is different, so I don't think there's a "typical doula job." A good doula will offer the support that each unique situation/family needs.

    1. This is a great response! I am a Doula and I have had a different roll at every birth.

  2. I went with the hubs and he was AWESOME and I wouldn't change it for the world. He took Bradley classes to learn how to be awesome (with me).

  3. I was certified as a doula. But have not hired one. I have always had a midwife with me, and they've managed to do the support I needed. My husband is great from 6 am to 10 pm. After that, forget it. It was the midwife I leaned on all evening.

    Doulas should respect your wishes for privacy. I have shared a few birth stories in my day, but only with the explicit permission of the mother.

    Doulas should not be strangers and they should not be underfoot. If a doula does her job well, at the end of the labor the mother looks at the father and says, "I couldn't have done it without you," and she looks at the doula and says, "Thank you for your help." The DAD looks at the doula and says, "I don't know if I could have dealt with that without you."

    1. If a doula does her job well, at the end of the labor the mother looks at the father and says, "I couldn't have done it without you," and she looks at the doula and says, "Thank you for your help." The DAD looks at the doula and says, "I don't know if I could have dealt with that without you." I agree with this statement

  4. I've never had a doula. I've always had Rob and usually a close friend there to help Rob out and to share the moment with. I considered having one with Laura though. She kept flipping sideways and had to be turned by my chiropractor (who is also a doula). I had her number on my cell phone and would have called her if Laura flipped again before or during labor so I didn't have to have a c-section or a manual version. I also would have called her if my labor stalled in an attempt not to have to use drugs to get it moving.

    As long as you have support, I don't think you need a doula, unless you need something you or your support person can't offer. I think they are super helpful for moms who aren't as familiar with the process or for moms who might have little kids there that the dad is watching so you have someone to help with labor/kids as I would think that would be a bit much for one person.

  5. Kimber, I have been a doula since 1996 and have attended births with all sorts of families. Families with awesome daddies that are the mama's #1 or almost sole support, families with daddies that want to be the #1 support, but need some help getting there, families with daddies who are fairly imcompetent at being the #1 support or even much support at all, families with daddies not interested in being the support at all, and families without daddies.

    I adjust my services, my care, my very essence of being depending on which type of family I am working with. Most of the families I work with are in the first category. The daddies are rock solid support systems and they COULD totally do it on there own and the mama would feel loved and nurtured and safe, but even those families give my doula services rave reviews . There is something about having a woman with you...even if she doesn't touch you or talk to you...that lowers adrenaline response, increases the oxytocin flow, and somehow it also increases the satisfaction a woman has with her marriage in general and spouse in particular. A doula certainly CAN be under foot or feel like a stranger, but that is not how the births I attend feel. The families I work with carefully and prayerfully make the decision to let me into their hearts and I carefully and prayerfully make the decision to let them into mine.

    As a doula (and actually in my regular life as well), my mission is to strengthen families.