Reasons I recommend a doula include:
- You have not done this before so it is helpful to have someone familiar with labor and birth right by your side once it starts getting big enough you can't ignore it.
- Doulas have skills and tools to help you navigate the challenges of labor well. These include comfort techniques, positions to help baby navigate the pelvis and so on
- Dads like to fix things, but labor isn't something they can fix. It can be challenging to see Mom in pain and not be able to take it away. A doula can support Dad as he supports you, and can show him ways to support you if he's unsure of what he can do that will be helpful.
- If labor is long, a doula can spell Dad so he can get some rest and then come back rested and ready to support you.
- A doula is a calm, reassuring presence. Having that presence can help Moms navigate labor with less stress, which can lead labor to progress faster and more efficiently.
- A doula is there just to support you and Dad, they are there for you in the moment without being distracted by needing to make clinical assessments, listen to baby, set up for the birth and other things.
Being a doula is hard work. It is physically and emotionally demanding. If I have to doula a client, I am afraid it will be at the expense of my midwifery skills. I want to bring my A game to the moments of birth when it is vital, but if I've had to do the work of a doula as well as a midwife up to birth, I'm going to be tired, and not as fresh as I want to be to be my best.
To paraphrase Forrest Gump Labor and birth is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get! You can have a great understanding of the process, but until you are in it, you truly don't know what it will be like for you. Having someone who will come alongside you and support you will help you navigate labor easier. Labor can be compared to hiking the Grand Canyon. If you want to hike to the bottom and back up, doing it by yourself is way more challenging than having a trail guide to lead you. A doula is very much a trail guide for labor and birth.
In my years doing birth work as a doula, as a midwife's assistant, as a midwifery apprentice and now as a midwife, I have never once heard someone say they regret hiring a doula. I HAVE heard plenty of people say how much they wish they had hired a doula.