As a dad, I was skeptical about hiring a doula. A doula is a non-medical helper who comforts and supports the mother before, during and after birth.
As a dad and husband, I thought that was my job.
And hiring a doula isn’t cheap. It’s an added expense on top of birthing classes, exercise balls, cribs, and countless other things. Doulas usually start at $1,000.
So should you get a doula?
First, why do Doulas exist?
Doulas have overseen births for thousands of years. Just as midwifery is practiced in every culture, so too is the tradition of doula-assisted births. A doula is a non-medical (almost always) female who assists and comforts throughout birth. Her role can begin many months before and extend months afterwards, but is most critical during labor.
Doulas can do what relatives and partners often cannot: stay calm and give informed advice to parents during birth.
The doula is a calm voice of reason during the chaotic birthing process. Births attended by Doulas report shorter delivery time, fewer inductions, and fewer c-sections. This latter point is incredibly important given that in today’s hospitals one in three children are delivered by c-section. Meanwhile only 10% of births have complications, so many of these c-sections are avoidable.
Even hyper-prepared parents can benefit. Our experience:
I’d always planned to be a supportive husband and father, and that I’d not only be present during birth, but also prepare for the process with books and classes. Even with all my preparation, having a doula made a massive, positive difference.
Birth is crazy and exhausting, so it’s a godsend to have a calm, experienced non-parent in the room to handle the many logistics big and small surrounding birth. The Doula’s role isn’t to replace the supportive partner, but to make it easier for the partner to focus on the mom and baby. During our birth, our doula brought us food, texted family and friends for us, and was a calm source of comfort throughout the birth. And afterwards, she gave my wife herbal remedies for faster post-birth healing and guided my wife through breastfeeding.
The best part was that my wife was never alone before, during or after birth.
Beware: not every doula experience will be positive.
Every birth is as unique as a fingerprint. Some common concerns with doulas are as follows:
- They can be expensive and are usually not covered by insurance.
- Scheduling conflicts. Birth is unpredictable and many times doulas will accidentally double book.
- Lack of professionalism. Doulas are usually sole proprietors so there’s little accountability and standardized practices.
- They can’t handle everything. Even experienced doulas may not be able to handle every situation that can arise during birth.
To be fair, many of these issues exist among midwives and doctors as well. Some of the benefits of doula care are summarized below. Source.