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To Doula or Not to Doula?

I love advice. I love wisdom from people who have been through it before. I love learning from the pros, and the passion that comes from someone who wants to share their life lessons with me. But I’ve noticed the enthusiasm behind moms wanting to tell me the best way to be pregnant, have a baby, and raise a child is at a whole different level of intensity.

The topic of birth I think is where I’ve received the most advice, feedback, and warning… Everyone I come into contact with face to face seems to have the same kind of idea: “Don’t be a hero, get an epidural.”

But it seems as though 90% of the people I converse with online are the opposite: “Don’t drug your baby -- have a beautiful birthing experience drug free!”

Now I’m not set in my ways one way or another. In fact this week I’m very gung-ho about going natural where at first I was totally set on getting an epidural. But the quickest way to annoy me is when you tell me I have to do it the way you did it, or my baby and I are doomed… And it’s the surest way to get me to go for the opposite technique. I think people should remember that when giving advice.

Let’s take the topic of having a doula at your birth as an example. My husband does not want a doula, he wants it to be more of an experience between us, and I honestly don’t really think I need one either. I know they can be very helpful and supportive and help tremendously through labor, but I also know they can be expensive, and not necessary. Not necessary, meaning most women I know survive labor without them, and I think we could too. But I’ve had lots and lots of doulas on Twitter tell me I need one, that it’s worth every penny, and that my birthing experience will surely be way better with one… Actually, I’d be crazy not to hire one.

While appealing, I wasn’t buying it. But, I decided I would at least consider a doula, and do a little research before completely throwing the option out. I emailed about 40, read their similar responses to my concerns, and narrowed it down to a few I chatted with on the phone.

One of them totally creeped me out and quite honestly annoyed me a little, the other three were really sweet. But the problem of cost was an issue. Sure, $500 may be worth it for a great experience for some people but quite honestly, as of now, I think I’d take my chances with just my husband, nurses and OB.

I looked into a “free doula” program here in my area but the phone number is inactive and no one responded to my emails. I feel like I’ve kind of given up in my doula search. There’s surprisingly a lot of work that goes into this if you’re starting from scratch. Plus, it’s hard to keep looking for something you don’t REALLY want anyway. Besides, my husband says he wants to be my doula, and that he’ll take whatever class he needs to in order to help.

Another reason I’ve been a little torn on this doula thing is because my expectations for birth are ever changing. I don’t know many people who go into labor with a set plan and come out of it exactly the way they want. Of course there are many reasons for that, but it’s seeing the different reactions that influence me. I don’t want to feel bad after birth if it doesn’t go the way I plan to a tee, or feel guilty if I end up with something I didn’t plan to have going in.

I’m still a long way out from birth but these thoughts spin around in my head all the time. This week it’s “to doula, or not to doula.” I’d love your thoughts, but remember, some passion can be perceived as pushiness. Did you or will you hire a doula?

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