Do I Want to Hire a Doula? Common Questions and Misconceptions
I’ve had several people in the last week contact me who were on the fence about hiring a Doula, so I wanted to address some of the common questions we get as I’m sure a lot of you out there are in the same boat.
Making the decision to hire a doula can be a tough one. First of all, most people don’t really know if they need or want one, they or their partners aren’t really sure what we do exactly, and when some people see the cost of the service, they freak out and decide they don’t need to spend that kind of money on someone to “hold your hand and rub your back.” So I put together a few of the things I hear most often with a response to each. Not a defensive rebuttal, just some facts so you and your partner can make an informed decision.
“I want it to be just the two of us in the room to keep it intimate” (usually said by the Partner)
I completely agree with this one. Birth is a very intimate experience. Both partners are vulnerable, excited, nervous, apprehensive. A good Doula does not burst in the room and take over. A Doula is here to support both parents in whatever way they need. Sometimes we do physical, hand-on support such as rubbing a Mom’s back in a specific area to relieve back pain/pressure or doing some light touch massage. Sometimes we are the keepers of the environment- making sure both parents have food, drinks, pillows, dim lights and soothing music. A calm environment makes all the difference in Labor. Many times while Mom is deep in “labor land”- aka focused concentration, I talk with her Partner about what is happening in the labor process- what to expect, reassurance about what he/she is seeing is normal, how mom is acting means ___, what the nurse/OB might do next is ___ and about the pros and cons of interventions and procedures.
Most importantly, I like to empower the Partner to be as much a part of Mom’s support system as possible. I show him where to rub. I teach him how to apply pressure on her back. I give him ideas on how to help her or things to try. He and I work very closely to make sure Mom is well taken care of. And as labor progresses and Dad gets the hang of it, I see him feeling more confident and I see her relaxing more and being appreciative of his support- not worrying about him freaking out or being annoyed that he isn’t rubbing or pressing the right way.
See, Birth isn’t just about Mom having a baby. It’s also this journey that the couple goes through together. Anytime you go through a tough situation with someone else, that bond is strengthened. When a Mom goes through Labor, at the end she feels untouchable- like she can do anything. When a Dad is part of it all, he also feels like a complete badass- which starts his journey into parenthood on a very positive note. If I can be a part of that and help them navigate this journey together– it’s a win- win.
“My Mom/Sister/Best Friend will be there. She’ll be my Doula”
By all means, have them there. If they are going to provide emotional support for you and your choices and if it will make you feel loved and happy, that is great! However, 99% of Moms/Sisters, etc. are not trained or have experience in Birthing situations. They don’t know what is normal/abnormal, they don’t know the hospital jargon, they don’t know the physiology of Labor and how to help you find a good position to help relieve pain or discomfort, and above all else they are emotionally involved. Why is that a bad thing? Well it’s not bad. It’s great. But a Doula is not emotionally involved like those closest to you. We know that it’s ok if you cry during labor or curse really loudly or say “this sucks.” Labor is hard work! And Doulas, of all people, know this! But we also know you can do it and we know how to talk you through the difficult parts. We’ve seen a lot of births, and we know the ins and outs of the process. We care about you. A lot. But we are there to be your support, and many times Moms/Sisters/BFFs don’t know what to do when you say “this sucks.” They want to fix it. Therefore, they may try to convince you to make choices that you are trying to avoid or annoy you because they are in the corner wringing their hands and looking worried.
“We trust our OB/Nurse/hospital staff.”
Awesome! That is THE most important thing- for you to feel good about your care providers. BUT… the nurse attending you is also attending a few other patients. Unfortunately she can’t be with you the whole time. And her shift will end at some point and you’ll get another fabulous nurse- who also is quite busy. Your OB is in and out, depending on the day and case load. You won’t see them much. My point is not that they will try to “do things to you” and you need a Doula to help in that regards. My point is that a Doula is with you the whole entire time (minus a pee break here and there). And, from my experience, sometimes there are decisions that have to be made where neither one sounds all that great. A Doula can help you work through the pros and cons of decisions regarding various procedures that may or may not need to happen. Sure, you can say “I don’t want Pitocin. Ever.” But there actually is a time and place for it. And, from recent experience, not all OBs who are in the same practice have the same philosophies. If your OB isn’t on call, you may need additional support.
Also very important: Doulas don’t hate doctors or fight with the nurses- at least a good one doesn’t! We are here to advocate for you and help you make informed decisions, but I always see my role as part of a Team effort between the Mom, Dad, OB, nurse, and myself. Sometimes there needs to be a discussion or a difficult decision made but we are all working together for the good of Mom and Baby.
Lastly, this is my favorite…
“It’s just too expensive”
Ok. Let me break it down for you like this: My fee is $800, half of which is due upon hiring me, which sometimes is at 20 weeks, sometimes at 35 weeks. When you hire me, I put in in ink on my calendar. This means I don’t take any other clients around your due date. This also means I completely rearrange my schedule and my life around your due date. Don’t get me wrong- I love this job and I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. But I’ve been on call for 3 years around Christmas, am always on call on my kids’ birthdays and my own, Easter, Halloween, you name it. My family knows I may or may not be around on special holidays, and even though they support me I know it would be tough if I wasn’t there.
I have several facets of my business- I’m a CrossFit trainer, a HypnoBirthing teacher, and do a lot of my business online as well. So each time I miss a session with a client, I don’t get paid. This is true of most doulas. Some are massage therapists, chiropractors, and moms of multiple children. Barring illness, if you need us, we are there. Period.
I usually go to at least one prenatal OB appointment with my clients. We have at least one prenatal home visit, lasting about 2 hours. I am available by phone as soon as they hire me and often receive calls and texts at all hours of the day. I am on call at 38 weeks, so my Partner is also on call. His boss knows if I have a birth that my Partner will have to leave work, thus he will not get paid for hours missed as he is on hourly wage. If he cannot get away, I hire a sitter at $15/hr for who knows how long. Not to mention I will miss out on my regularly scheduled clients while I am attending the Birth.
I have been at the hospital for as little as 5 hours and as much as 30 hours. I prep and pack food for myself as well as snacks for the couple. After the birth, I call and/or text the new mom every day for the next week to make sure she’s doing ok and answer any questions. About 5-7 days post birth, I visit the new family at their home for a postpartum visit/assessment. Depending on their needs, I may come back to check on them/help them again. Each visit lasts about 2 hours and I am available by phone if needed up to 6 weeks post baby. If I’m at a super long birth, it takes me a day or so to recover physically and mentally. There’s no way to really do the math, but you get my drift. Again, if we didn’t love this job, we wouldn’t do it. It’s not making us millionaires or anything. And we don’t expect it to.
I hope I helped make sense of the role of a Doula. If you have other questions regarding Doulas, please please ask. Just make an informed decision and not one based on dollar signs or mis-information. Ultimately you’ll know, in your gut, if you’d like to have a Doula at your birth.
A. Tabata KB Clean & Press
- You will Clean & Press for the 20 seconds of work, but on the 10 seconds of “rest” you will hold the KB overhead.
- Perform 4 rounds all on the Right before switching sides.
- Use a KB that is a challenging weight
B. Chipper Sandwich
50 Russian KB Swings
40 Ring Rows
30 Goblet Squats
20 Bird Dogs
10 Burpees or Sprawls
- If you feel like you need a longer workout, go back up the ladder once you get back from your 2nd run.
- If you don’t have rings, sub pushups instead- remember you can do them to a box, a wall, or use plates to elevate your belly
- See this video link for instructions regarding the Bird Dog if you are not familiar