Choosing a Doula

Why we chose to have a doula: 

So many reasons.

Crunchy, but backed by data: There are so many “natural birth” trends on which the data is shaky or nonexistent, but there is actual information to support that having a doula present gives one a significantly better shot at certain birth outcomes, such as:

  • 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin
  • 28% decrease in the risk of Cesarean
  • 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
  • 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
  • 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
  • 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience

Data from Evidence Based Birth

I’m a crunchy person either way, but having the information to back it up also makes this feel like a strong decision financially and with regards to health and wellbeing.

Environment and Advocacy: Because we’re having a hospital birth, it was very important to me to feel like I would have a constant in the room along with my husband to help keep me comfortable, focused, and advocated for. I am hoping to have a birth very light on interventions–no epidural, minimal monitoring, and most importantly to me, no Pitocin. But I also know that I can be susceptible to outside influence, and if doctors and nurses are pressuring me into interventions I don’t want or need, I need someone else there to keep me focused on what I want. Nurses and doctors are going to change shifts and come and go anyway. I want the constant of my husband and my doula amid the other things that are going to be in flux.

I also want the hospital setting to feel as homey as possible, and I know a doula will be a big part of creating the environment in the room that will feel that way–keeping lights low, music, pillows, bouncy balls, showers, baths, etc.

Education: Having a doula means having someone else who can dispense wisdom, advice, knowledge, and firsthand experience on something that I have exactly no firsthand experience in.

Emotional Support: One can’t have enough of this in such a vulnerable situation. Knowing that someone else has your back in that room, and having someone to express fears and misgivings to is extremely important to me.

Husband Support: My husband is the kind of guy that isn’t going to want to leave my side at all, but this is going to be a long process, and the man’s going to need food and rest. He also needs all of the above things almost as much as I do, and he deserves to have it. A doula will also make sure that his emotional and physical needs are met.

Doula interviewing tips: 

We only talked to two, but I learned a lot in that process. Most importantly, this would be the advice I would dispense:

  • Know yourself and what you want. I know what works for me and my personality. I’m a total extrovert and genuinely like most people, so I need to take a step back after having conversations like that to really assess what I think after the conversation-high wears off. I also know that advocacy for my wants and needs was the most important thing on my list after the general personality click, so when the second doula really spoke to that, I was sold. Go into these conversations knowing what you’re looking for in that partnership.
  • Keep your partner involved. It was really important to me that my husband also like this person. After all, we’re going be spending like 20 really intense hours together.
  • Keep an open mind. I thought that I would much prefer someone my own age, but our doula has kids my age, and it ended up feeling really natural to have someone who has kind of a cool-mom vibe. I really surprised myself on this.
  • Be honest with them about the financial end. It does cost a lot, and insurance is probably not going to help you. I asked both of them over email about how they take payment, and their feedback on that also helped shape the decision.
  • Ask about their philosophy and scope of service. Does it sync up with what you want and how you’re feeling about everything? Does it align with your personal values? If there’s a disconnect or a disagreement, do you feel comfortable voicing it?

How we chose our particular doula: 

So, the decision was clear for us–we wanted a doula. And, shockingly, we had a lot of options in our area. I looked at some websites, and reviews as I could find them, and narrowed it down to two we would interview first. If we didn’t feel a vibe with either of them, we would go back to the drawing board.

For both conversations, they came to our home to talk with us and get to know us a bit. The first person we talked to was part of a doula organization. I liked her personally and the services they offered, but also felt that she seemed to still be figuring things out. The thing that was their big brag was that when you sign with them, you get two doulas that you get to know during your pregnancy, and whoever is on call when you go into labor is your person. From her perspective, this was a major win–you wouldn’t run into a situation where you just straight up didn’t have a doula. This wasn’t a win for me and my husband though, because if I were to not get the one I hoped for during go-time…I’d be a nightmare bitch to deal with. Know thyself.

The next one we interviewed was an instant win. She’s warm, extremely experienced, easy to talk to, and had a lot to say about advocacy in the birth room, taking back your birth, and prioritizing the things you want while staying open to the process. I appreciated her straightforwardness and how comfortable she was talking about her work–she wasn’t trying to impress us, she was just telling us like it is. You could just tell she is someone who supremely knows what she’s doing and wants genuinely to get to know and help you. We ended up knowing some of the same people, which was fun and gave some common ground, and also ended up, somehow, on some pretty personal topics related to family and things like that. The fact that we had that instant comfort level and connection was the selling point for me. Her knowledge was obvious, but what really did it was the personal connection. I could tell she would be someone who would have solutions or ideas for issues during labor, not someone who was going to need to consult a guidebook to figure it out. She also only takes two clients a month and has never missed a birth. That track record was a winner. I feel 100% confident in the choice that we made and am legit excited to go into labor.

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