If you're pregnant, odds are you've been asked if you plan to hire a doula. You probably responded with, “What in the heck is a doula?” Or if you already know what a doula is you might've said, “Why do I need a doula? I'll have my partner and my mom by my side.” Well, I'm going to answer those questions and much more for you below…
What's a doula?
According to my friend Adrienne, “A doula is the greatest thing you never knew you needed!” Along with what she said, a doula is a trained professional who supports women and their families during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Doulas offer informational, physical, and emotional support.
Do I need a doula?
Birthing a baby takes a lot of energy, endurance, willpower, tears, and love. It's hard work! Even for women who want a medicated birth, you're not just going to arrive at the hospital and receive an epidural. Sorry to burst that bubble. Every laboring woman needs a support person to rub her back, encourage her when she reaches her breaking point, and remind her that she's amazing! Many pregnant women have a partner, mom, mother-in-law, sister, or best friend already lined up to fill that supportive role.
Let's ask my friend Jen, a midwife, about the difference between the level of support a loved one and a doula can provide. “A doula is specially trained to understand the physiology of birth. She has expertise in a variety of support strategies and a solid grounding in the latest evidence-based practice. She is actually a support for your partner or mom as well as for you and can help your family feel more confident and comfortable in their part of the birth team.”
So to answer the question posed above, I'd say unless your support person is willing to throw on a “Labor & Delivery Support Team” shirt and hold your leg up while you're pushing, you might want to consider hiring a doula.
“As a husband – and especially as a physician – I was expected to just automatically know how to best support my wife in labor. I had no idea what I was doing. Having the doula there helped me best help her. Your husband may not think he wants a doula now – but wait until show time. He will be so happy she is there.”
What are the benefits of hiring a doula?
A pregnant plus size woman has a nearly 50% risk of having a cesarean birth. Statistically, doulas not only reduce a woman's risk of having a c-section but also shorten the amount of time she's in labor. Recently the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a consensus on ways to prevent c-sections. “Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula.”
Additional Benefits Doulas Provide
- 50% reduction in the cesarean rate
- 25% shorter labor
- 60% reduction in epidural requests
- 40% reduction in oxytocin use
- 30% reduction in analgesia use
- 40% reduction in forceps delivery
How do I find an experienced doula in my area?
Google is the answer for everything these days. The problem is that Google can throw you down a rabbit hole of resources, so a little over two years ago I started a list of size friendly doulas. The idea behind it was to provide a list of doulas who have comfort and experience working with women of size.
How much do doulas cost?
The price you'll pay for a doula ranges dramatically based on their level of experience and location. On average doulas charge anywhere between $300 – $900. Remember that fee isn't just for your birth that can be upwards of 24 hours. Most doulas also offer two home visits before your birth along with a visit once you're home with your bundle of joy!
Don't feel like you can afford a doula?
Doulas are also the best baby shower gift your loved ones can provide you with! There are only so many receiving blankets a mama can use. You'll be amazed how much baby stuff you'll collect while pregnant and how little of it you'll actually need. Rather than having your family and friends give you gifts, ask them to contribute to your doula fund. My mom, who witnessed my birth, agrees, “Providing my daughter with a doula was the best money I've spent in my entire life.”
I hope I've answered your questions about doulas and why you'd want to hire one for your first or fifth birth. I'm of the belief that pictures speak much louder than words so I'd love to share some images of Plus Mommy community members laboring alongside their doula. The first set of photos is of yours truly and you can read my birth story, and how my doula supported me, here.
“If a doula were a drug, it would be malpractice not to use it.”
Dr. John Kennell
I firmly believe a doula has the ability to not only transform birth experiences but also the way a woman feels about her body. Watch this video to learn even more!
Did you hire a doula for your birth? Share your experiences in the comments below!