Hiring a Doula Took the Fear Out of Giving Birth—Here’s Why
When I became pregnant with my daughter, I knew my life would forever be changed. In just nine short month’s we’d have our sweet baby in our arms.
While I loved seeing our little bundle wiggling around like a gummy bear on the ultrasound screen during my first prenatal visit, I left the doctor’s office with so many questions. You’re pretty much handed a gigantic packet of medical information—from approved medications to foods to avoid—and told they’ll see you in four more weeks. And to a hormonal pregnant woman, those four weeks seemed like a lifetime.
The Problem: I Wanted a More Holistic Approach to Pregnancy & Birth
As someone who generally takes a holistic approach and is super interested in the mind-body connection, I knew I wanted more than the standard medical approach to pregnancy and childbirth.
Don’t get me wrong: My OBGYN was an absolute dream to work with, but she wasn’t going to be able to rub my back during early labor or coach me through delivery. And while I adore my husband, this was uncharted territory for both of us—and we knew it’d be best for our sanity to look for professional help.
I needed a cheerleader to help me advocate for myself and coach me through when the going got rough or my anxiety crept in. It was also my intention to have a natural labor and delivery, with as few interventions as possible (knowing that some things are beyond my control). And studies show that simply the presence of a non-medical support person lowers the risk of cesarean section, use of labor augmentation drugs and can even shorten the length of labor. Win, win, win!
The Solution: I Hired a Doula
After hearing magical stories from my friends who worked with doulas, I knew I wanted to have what they were having. So in addition to taking my daily prenatals and navigating the whirlwind of the first trimester, I decided to add “hire a doula” to my pregnancy checklist.
In a nutshell, a doula is a birth coach who helps you advocate for yourself—through pregnancy, birth and into the postpartum journey. Unlike an OBGYN, a doula doesn’t have medical training, but rather guides you through pregnancy in order to prepare for the big day, plus what’s to come after that. Think: education on pain relief options, tools to support labor and natural relaxation techniques (music to a pregnant woman’s ears).
I took a friend’s advice, and met with local Boston doula Emma of Lavandoula to see what it was all about. After our first meeting over coffee—where we bonded about our mutual love for bone broth and essential oils—I knew Emma was my girl.
Just like hiring an employee, it’s important to ask all the right questions and make sure you “click” with your doula beforehand, as they each have their own style. Price is also something you’ll want to discuss upfront. According to What to Expect, the cost typically ranges from $800 to $2,500, averaging around $1,200 (and some doulas charge by the hour while others, like Emma, do a flat fee).
One of the best parts about opting for a flat fee was that everything was included in the package—the initial meeting, two pre-birth home visits, the actual birth and one postpartum visit. I loved that my doula spent quality time with me (and my hubby), answering questions and putting my mind at ease, and I never had to feel like I was “on the clock.” I knew she was worth every penny—and hubby agreed!
The Verdict: It Took the Fear Out of Birth
Leading up to my due date, having the support from a doula was monumental, and truly helped take the fear out of childbirth for me.
During the home visits, we discussed creating a birth plan, hubby’s role as a birth coach and my desired relaxation techniques. (Give me all the lavender towels, pretty please!) And I knew Emma was always a just text away from answering any weird pregnancy questions—from discharge to dilation. She always created a safe place, and I never felt embarrassed to chat about what was on my mind.
I truly can’t imagine going through the process without the support of a doula. When my contractions started getting closer together, Emma met us at our apartment (and make sure hubby and I ate something). Then, when I was sent home from the hospital in tears because I wasn’t “really in labor,” and the doctor wanted to induce me early due to a high blood pressure scare, Emma was there to talk me through my options and diffuse calming essential oils.
During the most excruciating back labor I could barely breathe through, Emma rubbed my back and assisted me in movements to help shift the baby and alleviate pain. At one point, I even went upside down like a yogi! When I was “stuck” at 9.5 centimeters dilated for more than three hours, Emma recited birthing affirmations and reminded me that yes, I could do this. And you bet she was there, holding one of my legs and coaching me through, when it came time to push.
Through all the tears and pain, I felt so supported, held, loved and ready to meet our baby girl. All my fears and anxieties melted away because I knew I wasn’t alone—I had my support system there for me.
We welcomed our beautiful baby girl into the world on a late-summer evening with the full moon rising. The room was filled with so much love, that I almost forgot I was in a hospital setting, or that I had 48+ hours of contractions. I simply felt so grateful.
While at the end of the day it was me who birthed our baby into this world, having a doula gave me the confidence to push through (no pun attended)—and work up the nerve to do it again someday.
Interested in other alternative health choices? Read more about how doulas can aid the birthing process, and meet seven black women making waves in alternative medicine.
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