Hiring a doula was something I wanted to do for G’s birth but the suggestion was shot down immediately. I couldn’t convince Mr Boots (or anyone really) that I wanted someone experienced in coaching a woman through childbirth helping me through labor. Very few people I knew were supportive of my wish for an epidural-free childbirth and the idea of a doula was even more outrageous to them.
G’s birth experience was not what I wanted. I felt I had no support and I once I learned I was severely dehydrated despite having an IV with my epidural, I felt I had been neglected as well. I remember one crisp morning, on the way to visit G in the NICU, I turned to Mr Boots and told him that if we had another baby we would be hiring a doula.
When I entered my second trimester I started searching for doulas in my area. I did start worrying one would be an unnecessary expense.
We I didn’t choose a cheap one and the what ifs of epidurals and c-sections loomed in the back of my mind. If those things happened, I didn’t see the point in a doula. Mr Boots was still hard to convince that this would be a helpful person to have around. I think our Bradley class is what made him consider letting me interview a few. Our second doula interview seemed to be what got him on board.
Our contract with our doula, Casey, stated she would be on call for us 24/7 starting 36 weeks. I’d get two prenatal visits, which could be for educational purposes, to tag along to a doctor visit, or review birth plans. She’d make the standard one postpartum visit. Since my doula was also a massage therapist I would receive one prenatal massage. She also includes birth photography.
Once we signed the contract and paid the deposit, Casey followed up with me after each visit to my midwife. A couple of weeks before I reached 36 weeks I found out Casey would be going out of town for a few days that week. Her reasoning being, what are the odds I’d actually go into labor that early? I was put off by this, especially when I realized labor was happening and I was going to have a baby in that 36th week.
Casey was really good about notifying her back up, Jenny, she might be needed when I told her about my first trip to the hospital. And when the time came for me to go back to the hospital to give birth she was good about getting Jenny and I in touch with each other quickly.
I was nervous about having a doula I hadn’t met before. Casey assured me that Jenny was very similar to her. I didn’t feel good about the change until Jenny told me she had given birth at my hospital and midwife was her’s for her last birth.
Jenny turned out to be awesome. Part of doula training requires you to take a birthing class and she chose a Bradley class, so she was familiar with what Mr Boots and I had been learning. She raved about the hospital and the medical staff at the practice I was going to, which made me feel good since she was the second doula we met that knew them.
When I was able to walk around she was able to show Mr Boots how to apply counter pressure to my hips during a contraction. While he did that she reminded me to relax and breathe — two things that are hard for me to do when I’m in pain or stressed out.
Since I was on a clock and also needed to be monitored, she applied pressure to the spot inside the ankle that triggers contractions. Things progressed quickly after that.
She reminded me to drink water and pee. She suggested different positions and tricks to help me tolerate the contractions better.
During transition she was there to make me sip water and feed me apple sauce from a pouch between contractions. While Mr Boots applied counter pressure, she offered her hands for me to squeeze as the contractions double peaked. She said what Mr Boots was too scared to (for fear of being wrong): “You’re in transition. You’re getting close.”
Since Casey offered photography as part of her services, Jenny took pictures for us. I don’t know how much better our doula’s would have been, but I’m happy to have what was taken. It’s certainly more than I got with G.
Jenny stayed to help establish nursing L for the first time and make sure there wasn’t anything we needed before she left. I was sad to see her go. I honestly don’t know if we would have had the same birth experience without her.
As we waited for a recovery room to become available I asked Mr Boots what he thought about a doula now that the experience was over. He said it was worth the money to have someone there who knew what they were doing.
I was glad he said that because it was exactly why I wanted one in the first place.
Casey still did the postpartum visit and I got a regular massage a few weeks after L was born. So really the only thing lacking was the two prenatal visits, but that turned out not to be a big deal since I had given birth once before. It was my understanding those visits would go over things like the birthing process itself and how to change diapers.
So, was hiring a doula worth it? Absolutely. If I decide to try a drug-free labor again I’ll definitely be hiring one.