Guest Post by Kendra Smith, Doula & Sacred Pregnancy Instructor:
I have been lucky enough to come across some very enlightening blogs lately about how to get creative with your finance so you can afford a doula. I have seen some wonderful ideas, but after reading the lists I realized how it could seem like a very daunting task to come up with the payment for a doula. A certified doula in our area can cost between $500 and $800. That is a good amount of money, especially if you don’t learn about doulas until later in your pregnancy, then you are stuck trying to come up with the payment on very short notice. So, why should parents work so hard to come up with the money to hire a doula? Is it even worth the trouble?
The short answer is YES! But, I don’t think that will convince anyone. So I will share some thoughts I have on why a doula is absolutely worth the money.
How does the support from a doula differ from the support your husband, partner, sister, mother or friends can give? Experience. A certified doula has gone through a process set forth by their certifying group to ensure a level of education and knowledge to be a valuable resource for their clients. If your main support person has read one or two books, your doula has read dozens. If your main support person has seen a few birth videos or seen an actual birth, your doula has seen hundreds. Being a doula is their profession. They take it just as serious as a teacher, nurse, banker or artist. Being a doula is not a hobby. It’s a career, but one that takes incredible dedication and commitment. They are constantly learning new information to help their clients. Doulas are knowledgeable about hospital routines and procedures. They can give suggestions, options and information about a wide range of situations at a moments notice. It is difficult for people who are not studying birth related issues on a daily basis to remember things in the excitement of labor. What will you do if your doctor suggests “breaking the bag of water?” What are the pros and cons? What are the alternatives? These are things that a doula can answer for you. She will not advise you, or make decisions for you, but she will have the information you need to make an informed decision.
It is common to think that you will get enough support from your nurse, midwife or doctor. There are some wonderful L&D nurses that really work hard to make sure your birth is empowering. The reality is, nurses are busy. As much as they would love to be with moms and dads, physically and emotionally supporting them, nurses have so much work and responsibilities they have to manage. They are often in charge of monitoring several women at once. There are just not enough nurses available to provide one on one attention to mothers. OB’s often pop into the laboring room once or twice during labor to check in but usually aren’t seen until a mother is actually pushing and the birth is imminent. Surprisingly, midwives that practice in the hospital often follow this same routine.
Many parents think that taking a childbirth education series will prepare them for labor and birth without a doula. As a doula and childbirth educator, I think taking a childbirth education series is a fantastic idea! I wish all first time parents would take one. The classes can provide valuable information and bring up several topics that you may not have even considered. They do have their limitations though. There is just not enough time to cover every single situation that could arise during pregnancy, labor and birth. The instructor could be bound by hospital policy and be greatly limited as to what they are allowed to teach. Sometimes hospital classes focus on hospital policy and procedure and forget to mention options and informed decision making. A doula is always available to the parents to offer all the options to them. Since they work directly for the parents, and not a hospital or birth center, they are able to offer new and different ideas.
The most convincing reason to use a doula is the statistics. Evidenced Based Birth reports that using a doula as your continuous labor support, in addition to your main support person and hospital staff, doulas can decrease the use of Pitocin by 31%, decrease the risk of cesarean section by 28%, increase the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth by 12% and decrease the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience. These results are not the same for women who only have a support person from their own social network. Doulas are a great “buffer” to the harsh environment of hospitals. They can make the energy feel more intimate, private and safe for the mother. They are there to make sure the laboring mother has everything she could need during her labor and birth and even can anticipate what the mother will need. Doulas are also a form of pain relief themselves. When a woman feels safe and is surrounded by people that are caring for her she can be more relaxed and that can reduce the sensation of pain. Doulas know all kinds of pain relieving techniques that can help reduce pain during labor.
Doulas are appropriate for any birth; it doesn’t matter if it’s a spontaneous natural, vaginal birth or a planned induction. Doulas can even be used during a planned cesarean. Doulas do not replace the father or main support person, they work beautifully together to give the mother all the emotional and physical support she needs. Doulas also provide support during the postpartum period. They are able to help with breastfeeding and newborn questions. A certified doula brings a lot of education and experience to the parents. They give all their wide range of knowledge and resources to their clients. It is not unusual for doulas to spend hours with the mother even before labor begins, so the mother feels confident about her birth. They are dedicated to their profession and dedicated to the mothers they serve. That kind of support is not always available to women in their maternity care. A doula’s support can mean the difference in an empowering birth and a traumatic birth. That is why doulas are worth every penny!
You can find Kendra here: Kendra Smith Facebook Page
All Rights Reserved, Knoxville Doula, Kimberly Sebeck, 2014