What’s a Doula?
First of all, you may be reading this and wondering what in the world a doula even is. Don’t worry, I didn’t know either, but I’m here to fill you in . . . and to tell you how drastically different my second birth experience was because of my doula. A birth doula is essentially a birth coach. She is there for YOU, the mama, because we all know childbirth is no walk in the park. Does that mean I went “all natural”? No way. I had an epidural both times. (But kudos to all you mamas who are amazing and did go natural. Not trying to start a debate here!) A doula is with you during labor, offering encouragement and support that you don’t even realize you need till you have it. So here goes — my top reasons for hiring a birth doula.
1. She helped me conquer fears.
My first labor and delivery was quite traumatic, so this was my number one reason for hiring a doula. I won’t go into all the details, but I had some major fears about childbirth, and meeting with my doula, Heather, was honestly therapeutic for me. She met with me twice towards the end of my pregnancy, and she gave me some strategies to think and pray about leading up to labor. For example, she encouraged me to talk about and even watch “normal” births so that I could picture that instead of my experience. It was so helpful to know that what I experienced was, in fact, NOT normal and most likely wouldn’t happen again. That, in and of itself, gave me confidence.
2. She kept me calm.
Once labor kicked in (all 38 hours of it), I felt prepared and ready because I had met with Heather and knew better what to expect. But once I got to the hospital and started filling out paperwork, reality sunk in and I felt ALL the nerves. My labor actually stopped when I got to the hospital . . . until Heather got there. We made game plan to start walking around. She told me what was going to happen next and reassured me all 56 times that I asked her that, “Yes, this is normal.” Unlike a nurse, she was with me the whole time, talking me through contractions and helping me find different positions to try to make them more comfortable until I got that lovely epidural. She also let me know that I could ask for a cordless monitor (there’s probably a fancier name for this) so that I could walk around and get labor going. Heather being an advocate for me made me feel especially taken care of, which gave me peace and kept those fears at bay.
3. She involved my husband.
My sweet husband was there the whole time, but let’s be honest — he had no clue what to do while I was in labor. There I was, in the worst pain of my life, knowing I was about to either push out a baby or be cut open; and, unfortunately, he will never understand that. It makes sense that he didn’t know exactly what to do — childbirth is an experience unlike any other. But my doula, Heather, made us feel like a team. She had me rest on him during contractions, while she talked me through them. Also, because she was there to explain everything to us both, he was informed and included in everything, which made me feel better (and I think him, too!).
4. She was different than a nurse.
Heather wasn’t there just for my physical wellbeing in the way that a nurse was. I had a great nurse (shoutout to Diane!), but her job was not to do all of the above. My nurse wasn’t there to talk about how I was feeling, to try to put my nerves to rest, or tell me how “great” I was doing, even when I didn’t feel like it. However, these were things I desperately needed and why I believe I had a successful VBAC. My doula filled in the gaps that my nurses just couldn’t fill.
My second birth was such a redeeming experience for me, and I think that is due in large part to all that Heather did for me to make it that way. I have said a thousand times that I don’t know how people have babies without a doula. The support and encouragement she provided was truly life-changing, and I cannot recommend highly enough finding a doula in order to have a wonderful birth experience.