One of the big things I want to do for this birth that we didn’t do the first time around was hire a doula. The purpose of a doula (or labor coach) is to provide non-medical assistance during labor and birth of your baby. While the nurses and doctors have a primary concern for the medical health and safety of the baby and mother, the doula focuses more on physical assistance during labor and emotional support of the mother. Many doulas will have several meetings with you prior to the birth and come to your house while you’re laboring before going to the hospital (if you’re having a hospital birth).
I’m very blessed to have a very supportive husband and he was there for every second of the labor and birth of Graham and Miles. What would have been nice is to have someone additional providing support on how the labor was progressing. A doula can provide physical relief for my husband (so he doesn’t have to spend two hours sitting on the edge of the bathtub with no breaks this time around) and be a coach to guide us on different positions and pain coping techniques to try to help labor progress.
I had a c-section with Graham and Miles and while I’m not saying having a doula would have resulted in a different outcome I do think a doula could have been an extra voice encouraging us to keep going, to get up and moving when I didn’t want to move and to be another opinion on how my labor was progressing. Especially when I started to get behind the contractions and the pain was getting to be too much – your husband or partner will do whatever you ask, they don’t want to see you in pain. And they get to a point of exhaustion in long labors as well. A doula can be a source of motivation and opinion on how things are going.
Having continuous support from a doula, along with family or friends, is shown to improve the health of the mother and baby during birth. And while the medical staff has a primary concern over a safe child birth, the doula’s goal is to ensure the mother feels emotionally safe, in control and confident during labor – all of which will help the progression of labor.
Doulas used to be thought of as a hippie thing that you only needed if you were having a home birth or didn’t have a family member to be your labor coach. They’ve gotten a bad rap for getting in the way of medical staff or pushing the mother to have a natural child birth. But as times have progressed and doulas have become more main stream you can find doulas who will mesh into your birth plan, work well with traditional medical staff and become a vital tool to use to have the birth you want.
My doctor supports the use of a doula and had a list of recommended doulas as I began my search. I then posted to Facebook asking friends for recommendations and from those recommendations I found our match. The cost of a doula is typically not covered by insurance and can range any where from $300 – $1,500 depending on their experience level and services provided. The doula we selected is a down to earth woman, with kids of her own, and has attended more than three hundred births. One of the big reasons we selected her (other than personality, cost and availability) was her focus on VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean section). She’s seen a lot of VBACs as well as assisted in a lot of c-section labors. It was reassuring talking to her about how things went with the birth of Graham and Miles and how we wanted things to be different this time around. There’s no reason to believe a vaginal birth is not possible with this baby. The biggest thing we can do is leave things be and let things progress naturally. The doctor we selected does a c-section at 41 weeks when you’ve had a previous c-section, with any luck I’ll go into labor on my own, make use of a doula and have a vaginal birth. Those are some of the things I want with this birth.