Pregnancy Pro tips - #1 Hire a Doula!
This is part 1 of the series of "Pregnancy pro tips". As I am in the 3rd trimester of my 5th pregnancy, I've been reflecting so much on what I typically share with my closest friends that has made all the difference for me in each of my very different pregnancies. There have been a few things that no matter the labor and delivery experience, I can reflect and say... each time... these were SO important...
Hire a what!?
A Doula! (greek word meaning - "woman who serves") - Doulas serve the birthing woman with physical support, emotional support and advocacy throughout labor, delivery and those first moments bonding and nursing baby. They are a constant, steady voice reminding you that you were made for this and you can do it! They are a gentle reminder of your desires for your birth when needed. They are a support to your partner, enabling them to best serve you at the varying stages of labor & delivery. They are words of encouragement, soothing light touch, back and foot massages, hip squeezes, cool wash cloths, Essential oil diffuser fillers, music playlist providers, prayer warriors ... they are so many wonderful things!
Let me tell you, I truly believe that we women do not allow others to serve us easily. We are typically in survival or serving mode. There are very few times in our fast paced society here in the good ole US of A that we deem it socially acceptable to allow others to serve us. Pregnancy and childbirth HAS to be one of those times. When a mother feels safe, supported and loved in childbirth... it is a BEAUTIFUL thing! Women are so amazing and their minds are so powerful. Creating a safe and sacred birthing space for each mama is so important! That safe and sacred space can be at home, a birthing center, or even a hospital (like where each of my 4 boys were born)! My labor and delivery rooms within the walls of a hospital became completely sacred and treasured spaces as the team around me (typically my husband, doula, nurse, midwife and perhaps other close female friends or family members) provided a peaceful and respectful environment where I felt safe to let my body lead the way.
Since the beginning of time, women have supported other women in childbirth. It just makes sense... we can offer support and encouragement from a place of true understanding! Women need other women... we go to the bathroom in pairs, constantly talk to and text our "besties", schedule play dates and lunch dates with our girlfriends. We snuggle each other's babies and help wipe away tears from each other's children. Why on earth would we go through the experience of childbirth (one of our greatest and most intense works) in isolation? Our great, great, great grandmothers didn't!
Having doula support in no way competes with ones partner. My husband has told many people that having a doula was instrumental in him being the best support possible. He felt needed and useful because of our doula's education and gentle direction. He mastered specific holds and pressure points. Without his support, I do not feel I could have had the amazing birthing experiences that I did with all 4 of our sons (check out my Mom Life page for their birth stories). He knew what to do and when to do it, because of her support. Doulas have so much respect for fathers and encourage their active participation. I love when I hear my husband actively recommend them to his friends when they announce they are expecting!
So, let's talk about some other benefits of a doula assisted births. The research is in and it will only continue to demonstrate the benefits, as we look at statistically what is improving birthing outcomes, specifically in America (especially where we do NOT have the most stellar maternal and infant mortality rates... like... we are worse than many 3rd world countries!) YIKES! As a highly developed country, we should be able to admit that our high level of interventions in birth are not improving results. As we get back to basics, we finally start to see improvements!
So, in bullet fashion to make it extra easy (referencing this recent study compiled in 2017 for some interesting, but not surprising outcomes)... With doula support:
- You are MORE likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth
- You are MORE likely to have a shorter labor
- You are LESS likely to need pain medications or epidurals (both of which carry risks)
- You are LESS likely to have negative feelings about childbirth
- You are LESS likely to need forcep or vacuum-assisted deliveries (never ideal)
- You are LESS likely to have a Cesarean delivery (it's MAJOR surgery y'all... not ideal)
- Your baby is LESS likely to have low APGAR scores after birth
- There is even a bit of research that suggests doula support is associated with lower post partum depression rates, as their care and interest in Mom and baby extends well beyond delivery day
- You are more likely to have increased levels of Oxytocin (that happy boosting love hormone) and Endorphin levels (those amazIng naturally occurring pain killers) because of the support, attention and love you receive from continuous labor support from an experienced doula!
Check out even more statistics and amazing info on doula care at one of my favorite birth related websites - Evidence Based Birth!
Bottom line - if you can save and scrimp that change for a doula, you are probably going to save loads of money on your uncomplicated, joyful, amazing childbirth experience. But, more importantly, despite the actual method by which the baby was delivered - because doulas support Moms in medicated and Cesarean births, as well... you will have more joy in your journey with their continuous love and support.
Side perk - you gain another friend and member of the family. My doulas hold such a special place in my heart! It forges a unique bond when you share life's most sacred moments with someone!