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Hire doula? Check! What's next on the list? I'm on a roll!

Amanda Jo Greep

The question of whether or not to hire a professional doula for our upcoming birth should have been an easy one. I am, after all, a doula myself, so it’s a no brainer, right?

If only.

There are a lot of things to consider when hiring a doula – where you plan to deliver, your relationship with your caregiver, your anticipated emotional needs, the make-up of the rest of your birth team, and, for many people, budget.

Our plans for this pregnancy are to birth at home again. Our daughter, Poppy, was born at home in late 2009 with the help of a Certified Nurse Midwife who has since become a friend as well as my boss. Having already birthed one baby, I’m less nervous about the whole thing this time around, and I still have the most supportive birth partner/husband a woman could ask for. I have full trust in the caregivers who will attend our actual delivery, will (as long as things go according to plan) labor and birth in the comfort of my home, and, so far, am experiencing a completely healthy, normal pregnancy.

So why would we feel the need to hire extra support?

Although we didn’t formally hire a doula last time, two friends joined us for the birth and unofficially served in that role. At that time, we were less concerned with the possibility that one or both of them may not be able to make it to our birth if the timing was bad.  Even though I was already a trained doula then, I had yet to attend a birth and I secretly questioned the usefulness of hiring someone for a homebirth. After all, I had spent countless hours getting to know my midwife and didn’t foresee needing a formal advocate to help me through the process or keep hospital staff off my back. It was only later that I realized how short sighted we were.

My friends helped me feel safe and loved when I most needed it. They rubbed my back, gave my husband a break, and cheered me on when I was crying and begging it to be over. They let me bury my face in their laps and yell like a banshee as I pushed. They took stunning photographs. And they supported me unconditionally. Most of time, when I think back, I don’t know how I could’ve done it without them.

So when my husband and I talked about our birth team for this birth several weeks ago, he brought up those two friends and asked whether we should just ask them again. Unfortunately, one of them is currently pregnant and due just one day before me (bad for me, great for her!) and the other is now a midwife, with a myriad of professional responsibilities to worry about. So we did what most other people do at this point and started looking around for a doula.

In some ways, it was really weird being on this side of the meet & greets. I wasn’t being asked questions about my birth philosophies or being asked to explain the nature or value of my work. Instead, I was sitting across the table from friends and colleagues, laughing and sharing anecdotes from our time as birth workers, while trying to remember to get my husband into the discussion so he could choose his favorite later. After all, I know, love, and work with all these ladies; it seemed only fair that I let my husband, the sole impartial judge, make the final decision.

In the end, we hired my friend, Chloe, one of NYC’s finest doulas (in my humble opinion), and have another doula friend or two willing to back her up in case I go into labor at the same time another of her winter clients does. It feels good to have another important “To Do” list item checked off nice and early and I’m already looking forward to our prenatal meetings in coming months.

If you’re pregnant, are you considering hiring a doula for your upcoming birth? Why or why not? If you’ve had a baby in the past, did you have a doula at your birth? If so, how did it go?

Follow Jo on Twitter at @outtajo or visit her personal blog, Outta Jo, Onto You.