Doula: Yes or No? — The Bump
Pregnant after 35

Doula: Yes or No?

I have been watching way too many birth documentaries that are now making me believe I need to hire a doula in order to: A) avoid c-section, B) keep my willpower to have a med-free birth, and C) have the quickest and smoothest labor and delivery. Business of Being Born, More Business of Being Born, Pregnant in America, etc.

Has anyone here used a doula? What was your experience? Anyone planning to use a doula with this baby? Why or why not? 

Me: 38, DH: 35
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Re: Doula: Yes or No?

  • I was 100% planning on getting a Doula but here I am at almost 30 weeks, Doula-less..With all the other planning that is going on, I just haven't had the time to even think about it and the further along I get the less I'm convinced about getting one. The cost here in the city will be about $1500-2K and as the bills pile up I'm not sure I can justify the cost.

    My main reason for wanting one was the DH will most likely be as nervous and scared and preoccupied as I will be and having someone who can be the calm liaison between me and the medical staff seemed like a good idea. However we've had experience with the Hospital I'm delivering at and in general they offer an excellant level of care so I'm a little less nervous about going it solo. We'll see, I might make a last minute decision to have one as things get closer.

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  • FTM here and I have hired a doula.  As PP stated, one of the main reasons I hired her is because I wanted someone in the room (other than DH) whose allegiance is to, and focus is on, me.  My parents will be in town for the birth but I do not want either of them in L&D with me.  I'd rather have DH and someone who is experienced with the process considering this is my first child.  I don't have a birth plan but do have a few things that are non negotiable.  For everything else, my doula and I have an agreement that if the staff wants to do something "controversial" or elective (e.g. internal fetal monitoring or an episiotomy), she will let me know what they are planning in the event they do not.

    I do not plan to go natural but after a few meetings and convos with my doula, I have not totally ruled it out as I had previously done.  She's a huge motivation and I've already found her worth the price paid.  She's also a massage therapist so I was sold!  :-)

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  • Before you take on the cost of a doula, take a tour of your hospital, talk to some of the L&D nurses and, of course, people you know who have delivered at your hospital. At mine, you are assigned a nurse who is with you for her entire 12 hour shift. With #1, mine was wonderful. She even clocked out and stayed with me when I went to mom and baby because I was upset that my son was in the NICU before I could see him or hold him. It was nothing serious and they were delaying bringing him to me for no good reason. She advocated for me and stayed with me until they brought him. I know she might have been the exception, but she was more than I ever could have asked for.
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  • I will not hire a doula. Call me a snob. They are not the most qualified poeple to get opinions from. I do have many friends and family who are physicians and they are all against doulas. My OB friend hates it when a patient shows up with a doula, he says it creates unnecessary stress for the medical staff and sometimes delays the emergency steps the dr needs to take to save the mother or baby. 

     

  • FTM here but I am YES YES YES YES on the doula question. My doula has already helped me so much. I hired her in November and right then and there she recommended some books for me to read that were really good, and when my OB refused to do delayed cord clamping and acted like a complete idiot about it, it was my doula I turned to for midwife recommendations. I fired the OB and switched to a midwife at 27 weeks. I don't know if I would have had the confidence to do that without the doula to help me. I just had my first prenatal meeting with my doula and she stayed for three hours! We went over all the procedures at the hospital where I will be delivering, talked about my concerns, went over all the different comfort measures available to us, just really got everything out there. She recently attended a birth with my MW, so she gave me the lowdown on how the MW acts during delivery (sounds like she will be a great fit)...I just feel so much more confident about getting the calm, peaceful, natural birth experience that I want with this doula by my side. My doula charges a flat fee of $500, which covers unlimited e-mail and phone support, two prenatal meetings, the entire delivery and 1-2 hours postpartum to get breastfeeding started, and one follow-up visit 1-2 weeks after the birth to make sure all is well with mom and baby. I think it's an extraordinarily good value and well worth every penny.
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  • No, I just don't see the need for it.  We didn't have one during my first pregnancy and delivery and everything went great.  I guess I just don't feel the need to have someone to "advocate" for me - why wouldn't I be able to speak my own mind?
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  • I am not hiring anyone....but I will have my sister with me the entire time.  Without a doubt she is my acting 'doula'   I am a FTM and I am not sure my boyfriend will be aware enough to help me through all the decision making processes...and to help make sure my specifics on my birth plan are honored (Also to help explain to me what is going on if the Doctors feel a need to move in a different direction--their top priority will be the baby, which means they may not have a chance to explain everything immediately)

    I think it is very important that I have another person there for support.  This is a first child for both my boyfriend and I....I want another person I know and trust to be close by.

  • imagemissymr:
    DH is not convinced however particularly because of the cost. It will be between 500 and 750 for a doula here, which will include two prenatal visits, unlimited phone calls and emails and then her presence from the time labour begins until 2 hours after the birth,I'm still seriously considering it but will have to find a way to convince DH it is worth the money.


    I am not hiring a doula csection 3 for me but I wanted to chime in anyway.

    This seems like a steal to me. When you consider the time a doula puts into a birth, they really are not making much at this price. They can be oncall for you for weeks, sometimes a month or longer. They have to be ready to go the second they get that call, which may mean driving separately to functions or not going at all especially if out of town. They have to prepare their family for them to be away for hours and hours, sometimes days depending on the labor and this could include paying childcare. Not to mention the training and any supplies they use oils, tools, etc.

    I think a doula can be invaluable when it comes to having an intervention free or nonmedicated birth. You need an advocate for you and often the dads are not emotionally in a place to ask questions or speak up for mom in certain situations.
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  • imageTX-Bride:

    I will not hire a doula. Call me a snob. They are not the most qualified poeple to get opinions from. I do have many friends and family who are physicians and they are all against doulas. My OB friend hates it when a patient shows up with a doula, he says it creates unnecessary stress for the medical staff and sometimes delays the emergency steps the dr needs to take to save the mother or baby. 

     

     

    OP...not all  doctors are like this.  The OB practice I use is very pro doula/low intervention.  In fact, one of my doctor's partners participated in the documentary The Business of Being Born.   Truthfully, even if the practice you're with isn't this way, it's your choice because it's your birth.  It might be worth mentioning to your doctor that you're considering hiring one to gauge his or her reaction.  But definitely do not let this be the reason you forego one.

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  • I had a great birth first time around and I think adding another person complicates things. I know everyone has theses ideals going in, but once you are there, best advice is to go with the flow. Hopefully you have trusted your doc thus far and feel comfortable that he/she will perform the best delivery possible.

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  • I've seen the 2 Business of being Born documentaries. I think they are informational and show options that women have for birth, but they are very biased. I never felt pressured into any interventions. I felt informed and part of the decision making process throughout my entire labor and delivery.   I would not have wanted someone else there.

    I think having a good relationship with your healthcare provider is most important.  

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  • We have a doula who will be there and she was there for our last birth, too. She is also a L&D nurse at our hospital. I agree with most all of the PP's thoughts on how a doula can help, but I also see her being a great support for my DH. She will make sure he is eating and drinking enough, allow him to take a break knowing I am still being supported (especially if things get long), and be able to think of things like getting the camera out for the important moments (especially if things start going really fast). 

    My OB team is very supportive of doulas, so I do not have much to say about that side. But I will say, it is never our doulas intention to get in between my OB and medical decision to make sure mom and baby are healthy.

    With my first birth - no doula - my husband got a stress migrane and was quite sick the entire time I was in labor. He started to feel better just about the time I was ready to push. I was pretty alone during my labor and I really wished I had a doula (or anyone) to help me. 

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  • I am a doula. I suppose that makes me biased when I say hiring a doula is worth the cost, though I am surprises by the high numbers quoted. There are also doulas who may take free clients during certification and recertification processes.
    Some care providers do not like doulas. Some just don't like dealing with mothers who ask questions and may challenge recommendations. Some have had experiences with unprofessional doulas who do questionable things. I have not yet encountered a care provider who objected to my presence, though. Typically my advocacy during labor is focused on reminding mom what she wants me to remind her of, and explaining in simple terms what the staff are saying and recommending. All decisions come from mom and partner, not me, and my job is to support their decisions.
  • I am not against doulas, but I never saw them as necessary.

    My DH has been a fantastic partner and I feel a whole heck of a lot more comfortable having him at my beside than someone I don't know as well. He knows me better than anyone and he knew that the last thing I wanted someone doing during labor is touching me and talking to me. :)

     Plus, I never found that A) I never felt pushed up on to have a C-section. I did have an emergency C-section with my second pregnancy, but my son was having decelerations and it was a last resort. My OB presented me with the facts and I gave consent.  B) I choose to deliver with meds, but my OB told me that they would honor my wishes to have a med-free delivery, if I so choose. C) No one can ensure a quick and smooth labor except you and your OB. I never felt incapacitated or unable to make my wishes known at any time during my past two deliveries. If you choose your OB wisely and go in with a plan of what you want, I don't see why a third party is necessary. That is just my opinion, of course.

     I can see where some women would find it beneficial to have a doula, but I am not one of them.

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  • imagevintageutopia:
    C No one can ensure a quick and smooth labor except you and your OB.


    Actually, not even you or your OB can ensure a quick and smooth labor. Birth is unpredictable. There can be bumps along the way and sometimes it ends much different than you had "planned" in your head. All we can do is take the steps necessary, for us as individuals, to have the support we need and hope for the birth we desire. In the end, we all we really want is a healthy baby :
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  • I am planning to have a doula if a) I can get it together to research and hire one and b) I feel like our finances are better in a few months. 

    At our hospital I only get to discuss my birth plan with my OB before the actual delivery. My OB is on board, but she won't be there the whole time to advocate for me and it might be a different doctor entirely. Other friends have had the experience of the nursing staff pushing them really hard toward more drugs than they want and to inducing when things didn't progress quickly. Their doctors were only there really close to pushing. I wish I could have frank discussions with the nursing staff about my birth plan, because I don't really want to spend $2K out-of-pocket for a doula advocator. 

    I love my DH, but he barely handles or breaks down in other stressful situations and has not been a good advocator in other situations. So I am only counting on him to hold my hand and rub my back while in labor.   

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  • imageDonnaMartinGraduates:
    imagevintageutopia:
    C No one can ensure a quick and smooth labor except you and your OB.
    Actually, not even you or your OB can ensure a quick and smooth labor. Birth is unpredictable. There can be bumps along the way and sometimes it ends much different than you had "planned" in your head. All we can do is take the steps necessary, for us as individuals, to have the support we need and hope for the birth we desire. In the end, we all we really want is a healthy baby :

    Technically, you are right. Birth is unpredictable. My point was that ultimately it is between you and your OB. Even if you have a doula, the choice will always be deferred to you if decisions need to be made. A doula cannot make medical decisions in your stead. Sorry, if that wasn't clear.

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  • imagekestock120:
    No, I just don't see the need for it.  We didn't have one during my first pregnancy and delivery and everything went great.  I guess I just don't feel the need to have someone to "advocate" for me - why wouldn't I be able to speak my own mind?

     

    this.  also, if for any reason something happens--my husband is more than capable of  advocating for both of us-- i don't need a stranger stepping in and more importantly (possibly)delaying something that is indeed medically necessary.  i do believe c-sections are rampant and overused, but they ARE needed sometimes! 


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  • I had a doula with my first pregnancy and I am so glad she was there. She was there for both me and my DH and gave us both peace of mind. The hospital, nurses and doctors were all supportive of our doula and respected her role; but our doula also respected the roles of the caregivers. The doula gave advice and ways to interpret things in a non-medical tone and explanations. Sometimes, it can be intimidating to question or feel contrary to what caregivers tell you. It's nice to have someone else there to act as a buffer. And I'm not someone who will not speak up for myself or ask questions. But if you are a first-time mom, this is all new, and you can't know all the answers.

    Unfortunately, I had to have a half dose of a narcotic to get a foley inserted, gave in to an epidural after almost 24 hours (I so wanted to be med free!), ended up with a c-section and had the exact opposite experience than what I had hoped for. But I felt confident in every decision I made and today I have an amazing 3 y.o. who brightens my life every second. And that's all that matters in the end (not insinuating you don't know this).

    I will be using the same doula for this pregnancy (#2), whether VBAC or another CS.  

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