Ok, so it may seem like I've only thought about this for a week but in all actuality I've been thinking about this for MONTHS. But over the last week I've finally made my decision about a doula.
I emailed about 40 doulas, heard back from several. Did some cost-comparisons and thought about why I REALLY wanted one. I've been back and forth with the doula thing and weighing the pluses and minuses for me. Like a guidance counselor would tell me to do, I made a list of the positives and negatives of hiring a doula. Quite honestly, the list of positives was longer when it came to services a doula can provide...I've read the benefits over and over, I read many of your comments about doulas, many of you having them or even being doulas yourselves. But when I compared it to what mattered MOST to me: Feeling like my husband and I are experiencing and making decisions together, experiencing this special milestone alone (during the hours of down time between nurse visits and whatnot) and feeling a sense of accomplishment that WE did it...It outweighed many of the reasons I wanted to hire a doula, which is why I've decided against it.
I've heard all of the arguments about doulas being able to take a back seat if that's what you want. But I wasn't too happy about that answer because to me, if I decide during to kick her to the side, I'm still paying her. I don't doubt that she would be helpful and that in the end my husband and I would appreciate having her, I just feel like I'd rather work through something like this just the two of us. Besides, if my husband really needed a break and I couldn't stand to be alone by myself for a few minutes I could call my mom in to keep me company for a little while. That's right...My MOM won't even be in the delivery room. Imagine how she'd feel if a doula got the privilege!
Initially cost was also an issue. In my area I found great doulas who offered their experience and all sorts of techniques for around $500 and up...I found one who's attended a few births and would charge me about $250-$300. I feel if I'm going to make that kind of investment it should be for something I REALLY want, not something I'm constantly debating and unsure about.
Out of all of my contacts, one woman wrote me back who is still working on her certification and she offered to do the doula services for free. I thought I'd be jumping for joy at the chance to have a doula for free, but I wasn't. That's when I realized it wasn't all about the money.
Finally, I thought about why I really wanted one. They say doulas know techniques to help with easing pain, etc. I don't see why my husband and I can't learn some of those techniques beforehand. I know people say in the heat of the moment you forget but I figure if we forget we forget, it's not going to kill me nor be the end of the world. Maybe it's something we'll laugh about later.
Another reason I wanted a doula was because it's nice to have someone there who can help me remember my goals and plans, but the more I've thought about our birth plans the more I've realized this is something we've kind of got to plan as we go, or at least be able to adapt as we go. Sure, I can say “no epidural” in my birth plan now, but what if I decide to say “screw this” 30 hours into active labor? I want to be flexible.
My husband and I are pretty strong willed people and we're not going to jump at anything without discussing the pros and cons, together and with our doctor. Chances are if we have done our research and know what we're talking about, we'll feel educated and confident about our decisions and not need a doula, to help with that.
In my opinion, what's more important than hiring a doula is being informed and educated about birth and not being afraid to ask the doctor or midwife questions or stand up for ourselves. To me what matters most is my husband and I talking those things out and making decisions together. Above all else in my birth plan is: “Take our time” and talk it out.
I've thought about it A LOT. I've interviewed doulas, I've read all the facts but I don't think a doula is for everyone and as of now...I don't think it's for me.
Who knows, maybe with baby number two we'll try one, but this time, I want it to try it with my husband and me.
Visit Jennifer's personal blog BabyMakinMachine.com.