We’re launching into World Doula Week and if you’re expecting a baby you might be thinking “Should I hire a doula?” I think the answer is probably yes (I might be a bit biased, though…) and here’s why:
Reasons to hire a birth doula
They’re experts at helping someone through birth – a birth doula is like a walking, talking, interactive and helpful fountain of knowledge. You don’t have to remember all the things you learned and explored in your childbirth class, your doula is there to help you through it.
They team up well with partners – a doula is an expert in birth, and that frees up the partner to be the expert at love and emotional support. That’s their area of expertise and where they will make the biggest difference.
It is hard to support someone through birth alone – as a doula, I have decided I won’t ever do a birth again when I am the only one providing labor support. It’s just too hard. If my client isn’t bringing a partner, friend or family member, I will bring an apprentice with me. Because I need bathroom breaks, food, and a chance to stretch out my muscles, too. Having a doula makes things so much easier for the partner.
They respect your choices – Most doulas work with families planning all kinds of births, and are very supportive of your goals and plans for how to get there. They can even provide ideas and resources to maximize your chances of getting the birth you want.
They have your back – standing up for yourself with medical staff can be intimidating. Especially if you’re wearing a hospital gown, or nothing. Especially if you’re in the middle of a huge task and awash in changing hormones. A good doula won’t take over and stand up for you, but they’ll be there right with you and have your back while you or your partner advocate for yourselves.
Reasons to hire a postpartum doula
They come with current knowledge and experience – something that grandparents are often sorely lacking. Some grandparents are great at staying with the times, some still think car seats really are not all that necessary and canned evaporated milk is just fine to feel your baby. Yikes.
They don’t feel judged if you don’t take your advice – For many families, the shifting roles of new parenthood uncover an emotional minefield. Parents are doing the best for their babies, grandparents might feel slighted by things the new parents choose to do differently. Having an impartial person who works for you can sometimes help avoid those land mines. Or at least help you navigate the fallout.
They are willing to do what it takes – I hear stories all the time from new parents about how their sister came “to help” after the baby was born, but then spent all her time hogging the baby and expecting the new mom to play hostess. Those kinds of things don’t happen with professional postpartum doulas, who will happily do the laundry and cook while you rest and snuggle the baby.
Rest speeds recovery – “Bouncing back” isn’t really a thing. Taking time to rest, especially in the first week or two, establishes a good base to build from. A postpartum doula can take care of the logistics of everything else and allow you to focus on your family and your recovery.
Takes the pressure off your partner – Your partner deserves time to connect and bond with the new baby, too. They can’t do that if they’re trying to manage all the household work themselves. Outsource the logistics and stuff anyone can do, and allow your partner time for a “babymoon” with you, the new baby, and any older siblings.
I hope you’ll consider adding a birth doula or postaprtum doula to your plans when your baby comes!