pregnancy and parenthood

Do you really need a doula?

Yes. So much yes. Hear me out.

I just assumed that I would be assigned a doctor for my childbirth. Then I did my research, was blessed with a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, and decided I wanted to aim for a natural, drug-free childbirth. So I went with a certified nurse midwife over a doctor because I wanted someone with more experience in holistic, low-intervention deliveries. I decided that midwifery best aligned with these health care preferences of mine.

And so, finding my amazing midwife initially gave me all the confidence I needed – I wasn’t planning on getting a doula, even though people had been encouraging me to do so. To be honest, I didn’t really know what a doula was, and whenever women explained it to me, it was kind of an abstract answer – “Oh, they’re just amazing. They support you through your labor.”

Sounds like a luxury, I would think, rather than a necessity. And, being that I have a controlling personality, my pride was too big to seek such a “luxury.”

IMG_0651That was until I met my doula. I originally went to her for prenatal yoga, but it only took three classes before her magnetizing personality, contagious passion for all things pregnancy and calming ability to inform without overwhelming drew me in. She wound up being the most attentive provider on my care team.

Pregnancy is an intense journey, and our bodies change drastically  – physically, mentally and spiritually over the course of nine long months (and then some with the recovery). My doula has supported me in all of these areas. To call the care of a doula a “luxury” is a misperception. The care of a doula is indispensable.

Emotional boost: No matter how great my medical check-ups went or how many baby apps I downloaded, there were still inevitable stressors, questions and anxieties that would arise. My husband certainly couldn’t relate, not to any fault of his own. My family and friends could try, but turning to those closest to you for emotional support usually lends itself to advice based on their preferences. This is well-intended, but it can be exhausting to keep up with all of the variant advice. My doula provided support in a way that no one else could. She answered my stressors, questions and anxieties from an objective standpoint, helping me sort through emotions with the power of knowledge in a way that never trumped my own intuition, but rather, encouraged my intuition to grow.

Physical support: Doulas hold a wealth of impressive knowledge on how to manage the pains of pregnancy, labor and recovery. Doctors and midwives can deliver your baby,  but they do not have the time to tend to you from start to finish. Husbands can try to coach you through, but they are coming from a place of love, not expertise. Without my doula, I have no doubt that my grueling, 31 hours of stubborn labor would have been isolating and stressful without her there to encourage me, soothe me and guide me through the different phases. Not only did she help us through the actual delivery, but she spent months preparing my body ahead of time, too.

Spiritual strength: Pregnancy, childbirth and the transition to motherhood is more than just a physical journey – it is a spiritual one. But the spirit is hard to treat in a medical setting. My doula filled in where medicine lapsed. She got to know me as a person, not a patient. Where medical providers were in tune to my body, my doula was in tune to my mind, body and soul. She understood that all three were equally important aspects to a successful childbirth, and she knew how to keep me centered and connected to all three components. Our “check-ups” were spent talking over coffee and on the yoga mat.

And so I join the thousands of other women who proclaim, “I couldn’t have done it without my doula.” Sure, technically, we would have gotten by, but not without major sacrifices. My doula was my advocate, coach, cheerleader, teacher, confidant, therapist, friend, liaison, and more. She was my anchor.

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5 thoughts on “Do you really need a doula?

  1. That’s so great that your doula was such a support for you. Mine was not. I wish I had saved the $800. My midwife, on the other hand – amazing.

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      1. I agree! It’s not that I didn’t feel supported I just felt that for me personally I would have been fine with just my husband and midwife. She didn’t ruin my experience by any means, she just didn’t add to it.

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  2. That’s understandable. I think what really stood out to me with my doula was that we saw each other weekly throughout my pregnancy; so we had a chance to really form a bond before the labor and delivery came along. It was a stressful pregnancy for me in that we just moved across the country and I had NO idea what I was doing in becoming a mother. So in my case she really helped me come into my own as a first time mom 🙂

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  3. Lovely to hear… we are interviewing four different doulas this week, and are so excited. Isn’t it interesting how getting support and care for ourselves is often considered selfish or a luxury in our culture? How we often use the term “spoil ourselves” to talk about getting a massage, or other things that help us feel more relaxed and capable? I’m so glad you did what you needed to do for yourself, and wrote about it… having a baby is a life-changing experience and surrounding ourselves with support is never a bad thing 🙂

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