I was over halfway through my pregnancy when I traveled for work to Vermont to visit a client. My contact there is a female that I'm close enough to that we can work hard during the day together and then kick back in the evenings over dinner and have "real talk."
Since she is a mother herself, a lot of our conversation this past trip revolved around pregnancy and childbirth. I was so interested to hear about her experience, which included the use of a doula. I was somewhat familiar with the concept but spent a good amount of time researching doulas and reaching out to some local ones in Charlotte.
Here's why we ended up choosing to use a doula:
+ We were complete amateurs. First time parents with no births attended, ever. We loved the idea of the hand-holding we would get through a process that can frankly be overwhelming.
+ We loved the statistics: evidence-based research shows that doula-attended births are shorter, have fewer complications, are associated with more positive birth experiences, and reduce the risk of emergency c-sections, forceps, vaccuums, etc.
+ I wasn't closed to the idea of a medication-free birth, and I knew the use of a doula could be extra helpful in laboring unmedicated. I truly believe that most hospital nursing staff can also provide great support, but in my own time of laboring, there were several times that the nurses needed to be tending to other patients. Our doula was always by my side. Seriously, I don't even think I saw her take a break; she was amazing. I did end up choosing an epidural but only after dealing with extremely strong and quick contractions for about 7 hours, and she got me through all of that pre-epidural laboring.
+ We had various family members coming in for the birth and our doula was a great help in managing everyone's expectations and being a source of support to everyone.
+ I wanted to feel that my husband was my biggest cheerleader through the birth, and our doula helped coach him with how to best support me and my needs.
+ Lastly, I loved the "old school" concept of having a female who is very experienced with births to be my side, someone who had seen it all and could bring a wealth of information to the process. Someone who was my advocate.
In my personal experience, our hospital worked seamlessly with our doula. They did not seem put off at all that we had her in the room with us, but I think this is also due 100% to her wonderful attitude and teamwork approach. She has a gentle but firm personality and never overstepped her boundaries. She worked with me before our due date to lay out my "birth preferences list" which is like a birth plan but a lot more flexible to account for changes that may need to occur for the baby's safety or my safety.
Additionally, she was an incredible source of education and support to me while I was approaching my due date and then in the nine days past that date that we went before meeting our daughter. She and I texted or spoke on the phone daily. She helped me with preparing for the birth and the labor -- everything from what to pack in my hospital bag to what sort of really strange labor signs I could look out for. She brought to the table helpful ideas to move us in the direction of having our baby, and most importantly, she kept my spirits up.
She helped me through a morning of cod liver oil to induce the birth, but that's a story for another day :)
While I labored overnight without my family members there, she held my hand, stroked my hair, put a cold washcloth on my forehead, pushed my hips together, rolled tennis balls on my back and massaged my shoulders -- which allowed my husband to sleep and get rested for the huge day ahead of us where I would really need his help. In the morning, we three walked the halls of the hospital together. I don't know if I would have made it out of the bed for a walk without her encouraging us to do so.
Hiring a doula is an added expense that is often not covered by insurance plans, but my husband and I are both in total agreement that it was money very well spent. Our doula has a special place in our hearts and will always be a part of our lives. She shed tears of joy right next to us as our darling Camille made her way into this world. It was an incredible moment that we had all been waiting for!
If you are in Charlotte, here is the site I used to research doulas:
Other websites to check out:
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to leave them in the comments or contact me personally. If you've used a doula, I'd love to hear about your experience.
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