There are millions of decisions to make when preparing for a baby. Between choosing the name, which brand of diaper to buy, and whether you’ll breastfeed, pump, or formula feed… the decisions feel endless.
But it’s not only preparing for when your baby is here — it’s also getting ready for labor and delivery.
Will you have a hospital birth?
What about home birth?
Will it be medicated or unmedicated?
Will you have a midwife or a doctor?
Who will be there for the birth?
And what sort of support will you have postpartum?
So many choices fall on you, and they all hinge on what you believe is best for you and your baby. As you navigate this difficult time, another consideration may pop up: should I hire a doula for my baby’s birth?
How do you know if you should hire a doula?
What does a doula do?
Where do you find one, and what do they cost?
Are they worth it?
If these questions are circling inside your head, we get it. Deciding on doula services is difficult because there’s a lot of information. But since doula care has been shown to improve the outcome of your birth and create a positive overall experience, it might be worth considering.
What’s a doula?
A doula provides physical and emotional support before, during, and after your birth. While they are not medical professionals, they typically have quite a bit of knowledge about the birthing process. They will provide evidence-backed information and education throughout your pregnancy and birth.
A doula is a supporter, advocator, and cheerleader for you throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Experienced doulas are well-versed in natural pain-relieving techniques.
A doula is there for you as you go through the uncertainty, pain, overwhelm, and confusion that birth can bring.
There are many different types of doula services. The ones we’ll be referring to today are:
- Birth doulas
- Postpartum doulas
Doula services can be an invaluable part of your birth experience, but remember; doulas are never meant to take the place of your doctor, midwife, or partner.
What does a doula do?
As previously stated, doula services support your emotional and physical needs throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Whether you need education, support, comfort, a listening ear, or an advocate, doula care encompasses everything.
If you’re pregnant and interested in doula services for your baby’s birth, you’ll want to start looking into your options sooner rather than later. Many doulas will begin working with expectant mothers as early as 20 weeks, which gives you the benefit of getting comfortable and familiar with your doula.
Throughout your pregnancy, a doula will meet with you a few times so you can get to know each other. Your doula will learn about your dream birth and your fears and concerns. They will help you solve your worries and create a personalized birth plan.
Doula services include educating you on the medical aspects of birth, providing suggestions and referrals for natural and alternative comfort measures and pain relief, and ensuring your preferences are honored by your birth team.
Here are some reasons you may choose to hire a doula. Maybe you:
- Have a toddler or other children and would like more support postpartum.
- Desire optimal postpartum rest and recovery.
- Would like lactation support postpartum.
- Want help with baby-related household tasks, such as cleanup and meal preparation.
- Need basic knowledge on how to care for a newborn.
- Require assistance with creating a feeding and sleeping routine.
- Need education and medically-sound advice throughout your pregnancy and birth.
- Want help creating a birth plan.
- Would like your partner to be educated and involved, as well.
- Desire a strong, positive, and calm presence by your side during your labor and delivery.
- Want an advocate to support you and ensure your voice is heard.
- Want physical support to help relieve pain during your labor and delivery.
- Need emotional support and encouragement throughout your labor and delivery.
If any of this sounds like you, consider looking into doula services near you.
Keep in mind that while birth and postpartum doula services overlap, there is a difference between the two. Before working with any doula, you should first identify exactly what help you’re looking for. Do you want to be educated, supported, and advocated for during your pregnancy and the birth of your baby?
Or do you want assistance during the postpartum period? Do you want help adjusting to life with a baby and managing your home? Do you desire support physically and emotionally postpartum?
What are the benefits of using a doula?
There have been many studies to show the benefits of doula services. Doulas can significantly improve the outcome and overall birth experience when you choose the right one.
Having the support of doula care means that you are less likely to have pain-relief medications and less likely to have a cesarean. One reason for this is that an experienced doula does the job of educating you and helping you understand the medical side of birth. They allow you to prepare for certain circumstances that may arise and give you the confidence to choose the best course of action for you.
Research proves that utilizing doula services reduces the length of labor, the use of oxytocin, and requests for an epidural. Doula care also helps with healthier baby weight and successful breastfeeding and decreases depression and anxiety.
Of course, all this hinges on finding the best doula for you. With the right doula on your birth team, the benefits far outweigh any negatives.
Does the idea of having someone there to support you and give you the birth you’ve always wanted sound appealing? If so, it may be time to look into doula services around you.
How to find a doula?
Now that you’ve decided to use a doula — how do you find one? How do you find the best doula services for you?
The best way to begin looking is by asking your doctor or midwife for recommendations. You can check online for doulas near you. Some doula agencies list services by location, price, or other categories that help narrow your search.
If you’re in or around the Houston, Texas, area, consider Motherhood Center’s doula services. We offer professional support for new and expecting mothers and many other benefits to make your transition to motherhood a little bit easier.
You can check out our doula services page here, and feel free to contact us if you’d like to learn more.