Sunday, August 17, 2008

Do it with a Doula

I've been thinking about doulas. Rixa posted about a study where it is shown that having a doula at your birth can reduce the chances of needing an epidural and the chances of a cesarean section. A couple of friends of mine are training to be doulas.

I probably won't ever use a doula- except in an extreme situation. If it were inevitable that I would need to be in a hospital for birth, then for sure I would get one. I'd use her as my voice and arms to make sure the birth goes how I want. And because it'd be nice to have someone you can roll your eyes with when the nurse/doctor leaves. :)

But doulas are more than hench(wo)men. A lot of them know ways to help you relax and have all sorts of information about interventions, procedures, positions, etc. They can even sneak food into your room if your hospital is anal about stuff like that- not that I'm thinking of any hospital in particular. (Glares in the direction of Utah Valley).

As you can read from the blogs I've linked to, some doulas even know massage. Cool.

I don't think I'd ever use one at home though I'm sure they'd be helpful to many women. This is partly because I've done it once. I've given birth on my own and I can do it again (this is actually what was going through my head when I was up in church right before I gave my talk today- "I've given birth at home without any help! So why am I so nervous about a 10 minute talk?)

Also, I'm not planning on using a doula because I have a secret desire for an autonomous birth. Ok. Well, not so secret. During Margaret's early days, I read lots of birth stories and was completely enamored with autonomous births. They sound so empowering. I want one. McKay's not so on board with that idea, but then again he wasn't on board with UC either until mid-December.

Would I be a doula? Probably not. I'd definitely go to a birth if I was invited, but be a professional doula? No. While I love the idea of helping women find the strength to birth, there's no denying the hard truth: you can't do it for them. In birth, the only one that can really help you is you. You have to find that strength yourself because you're the only one in that place. Also, I wouldn't want a woman to feel like I was the reason for her successful birth- she is the reason- she went to that tough place and succeeded and there's nothing I could have possibly done.

But would I recommend getting a doula? Yeah. If you're pregnant, get a doula, or at least talk to one about what they do and consider it. It's the least you can do. And who doesn't want to avoid a cesarean?


  1. I loved having a doula at my homebirths. Not so much for the advocacy part, but to help when dh has to take care of the other kiddos. It is also really nice to have her take pictures. Of course, I like being surrounded with women when I am in labor.
    If I were to go to the hospital, there is no way I would not have a doula. They are ESSENTIAL to every hospital going Mama.

  2. What's the difference between UC and an autonomous birth?

  3. While I am very impressed at your unassisted birth stories and think that women are very powerful, I just have to tell you what is always going through my mind when I read your blog..... without a hospital and my awesome doctor, two of my three girls would never have been able to be born at all. Actually, I and my first baby would have died in child birth and so neither of my last two girls would ever had entered this world. So, while unassisted birth is a wonderful thing, I think women should be fully educated on the great risk involved and never encouraged to go this route unless they are pretty (like 100%) sure they and their babies are going come through it. I am very glad all went so well for you though. Also, whether you give birth alone or in a hospital, it is still an amazingly wonderful experience and ALL women, no matter their experience, is super strong and totally awesome, in my book.

  4. Sorry, but what is an autonomous birth?

    I agree, doulas are awesome!

  5. "I wouldn't want a woman to feel like I was the reason for her successful birth- she is the reason- she went to that tough place and succeeded and there's nothing I could have possibly done."

    I don't think that any amount of assistance is going to take away a woman's feeling of "I did it!" Except, maybe, a c-section. Even me, with my very medicated hospital birth. After three hours of pushing, I still looked at Soren for the first time and wanted to shout, "Hey! I did it!" I am positive that no doula, doctor, or drug could have stolen the spotlight in my mind.

  6. Autonomous birth means it's just you. Think alone birthing. I have read beautiful and spiritual autonomous births. I can understand why she wants one. For me I am such a social birther, I think our home will always be full during a birthing "party".

    As far as the whole I or my baby would have died thing, a woman's best protection during birth is her intuition, not her care provider. Hence the inherent safety of UC. There isn't anyone there to drown out your inner wisdom.

  7. Do not expect your doula to speak for you or to break rules for you. A well-trained doula will have the mother speak if she can, the partner if she can't, and will only directly convey the mothers' wishes if she is physically are unable to--say in the middle of a contraction if an answer can't wait. This is for two reason: one of the points of having a doula is putting power back in the hands of the mother, and the second is a doula never wants to make it seem like she's making decisions for the mother.
    A doula will not break rules for you--she has a reputation with the hospital staff she needs to maintain. She may, however, tell you something along the lines of "This hospital doesn't allow eating during labor, however, I know of couples who have sneaked food." She would probably suggest you labor at home as much as possible so you have a chance to get adequate nutrition.

  8. Pffffff...I don't agree with Jessica at all! Who told you that you wouldn't have made it? Your doctor? I have heard the same thing from just about every mother I have met in Utah Valley. Could the infant/maternal mortality rate be that much higher in Utah than everywhere else in the world?Pffff...again.

    I had a hospital birth and I am sure that had I not been educated I would have freaked out too for all the unnecessary crap that they do to you in order to cover their butts. But I KNEW what was going on and why they were doing things and thus, I do not give them any credit for my healthy birth or baby. That was all me and God.

    If you did your research and you KNOW that everything they did was necessary in your situation, good for you and I apologize for being rude, but if you didn't then maybe you should re-examine your experience.

    Heather did her research! She was an expert about birth when her baby was born and I believe that her baby and her life were in much better hands than in some OB/Gyn's with a god-complex. Good for her for trusting in herself and the body that God gave her.

    (Heather, I know you probably aren't going to post this, but people like this piss me off).

  9. What does pffffff mean? Are you spiting at me? Sticking your tongue at me? What? Yeah, that's rude. My comment was only voicing my concern and own opinion. It is fine if you want to think so little of hospitals and doctors. But, I don't. I am very thankful that I live in a time where we are so blessed to have hospitals and knowledgeable doctors. I am sure there are many pioneer women who would have been and women in other parts of the world who would be so glad to have the options we have. While many women may be able to give birth at home without help, some really do need help and that is OK. Even animals need help sometimes! James Herriot often was up to his shoulder in a sheep or cow or horse because she couldn't birth by herself! Even dogs sometimes require an emergency c-section because sometimes babies are just stuck, or too big, or not in the right position. We should all be thankful that today we are offered so many different options and that we can choose what is best for us. For you, that can be at home and unassisted. But, for me, it is in the comfort of a hospital with my Super Doctor, whom I have complete faith in. Not all doctors have a "god-complex".

  10. Before this gets crazy, I'm going to ask that any future comments be doula-related. We are all very opinionated women and we try our very best to do what's right for our families.

  11. I am also very thankful to have doctors and the advanced medical care that we have available today, however I believe that our society has strayed too far from what is healthy for a mother and baby by turning pregnancy and birth into an illness rather than a perfectly normal part of life.

    This is why I think doula's are vital for hospital births. They provide the kind of support that doctors are often unable (or unwilling) to provide because of their busy schedules/medical bureaucracy. My doula was a calm quiet presence at my birth and when the L&D nurse started freaking out about my blood pressure, meconium, slow progress etc., my doula told me the actual risks and helped me make informed decisions. She helped my husband and I to feel calm and confident and much less stressed.

    I agree, animals need help sometimes too and I know this because I used to raise farm animals. They need this help rarely and often only because they were bred too young, but that is another topic. And "pfff" is the sound one makes when blowing air through ones teeth; no spit involved.


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