To Doula, Or Not to Doula

Tonight Mark and I are going to a “Doula Meet & Greet” at our delivery hospital. I don’t know much about the doula program being offered tonight, but my general understanding is that it’s a Doula Co-op, meaning that you won’t necessarily work with one doula prior to, during and after labor, but that it will work much like the typical doctor situation (ie: you get whichever doula happens to be working/on-call when you begin laboring).

Mark and I have talked about hiring a doula to help with our laboring process, but have not made a decision quite yet. For those of you who don’t know, here’s some background on doulas…

What is a doula? A birth doula is a trained labor coach who assists you during labor and delivery. She provides you with continuous emotional support, as well as assistance with other non-medical aspects of your care.

At this point, you might be thinking, “isn’t that what your husband is for?” BUT, the biggest difference is that this individual is trained in labor coaching and can answer your questions during labor, suggest positions during labor, help you with breathing techniques, etc. In fact, studies show that deliveries with doulas tend to use pain medication less often, have slightly shorter labors, and are less likely to have a c-section or a forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery.

According to DONA International, a doula is a professional who is trained in childbirth and provides continuous support to a mother before, during, and just after birth (postpartum doulas are not covered in this article). Doula comes from a Greek word that means “a woman who serves” or “handmaiden.”

According to this website, delivery outcomes with doulas had significant benefits:

  • 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin
  • 28% decrease in the risk of C-section
  • 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
  • 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
  • 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
  • 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience

Here are stats from another website:

  • 50% fewer caesarean sections
  • Reduction in the use of forceps vacuum by 40%
  • 60% fewer requests for epidurals
  • 40% reduction in the use of synthetic oxytocin for inductions or augmentations
  • 30% reduction in use of pain medication
  • 25% reduction in labor length
  • Increased rates of breastfeeding at 6 weeks post-partum (51% vs 29%)
  • Higher self-esteem (74% vs 59%), less anxiety (28% vs 40%) and less depression (10% vs 23%) at 6 weeks post-partum

Regardless of which is more accurate, it’s enough to intrigue me. I anticipate that labor is going to be the most physically and mentally challenging thing I’ve ever done and I want to be as prepared and well-equipped as possible. So, tonight, we meet doulas! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Symptoms

Ugh, I just feel very blah today. Tired, sluggish, and swollen. I know that it’s so natural and healthy to be gaining weight during this time, but I can’t help but look in the mirror and think, “Ughh, I look fat.” I love my tummy and the little baby inside, but I guess this is just the product of a person who’s spent their entire life concerned with image. I mean, I’ve always gained weight very easily and have had to work very hard to be thin. In fact, it’s only in the last 2 or so years that I’ve really gotten back to a comfortable, healthy place. And now, to watch my body change again feels wearing and kind of difficult. I can’t help but notice that my face is so dang puffy and I’m sure my tush is growing.

I’m sure people will read this and judge or say, “you look great. It’s just baby weight,” etc. etc., but I can’t help it. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop eating or giving my body what it needs to take care of our little babe. It just means that it’s hard to watch my body change. I think that’s fair.

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3 thoughts on “To Doula, Or Not to Doula

  1. I’m exactly 30 weeks today. I love your blog it has been very informative to me. I will not judge you on the weight issue. Seven years ago I had the gastric bypass surgery and lost a total of 240 lbs. since then I have played 5 years of roller derby and kept off the weight while toning my skin and muscles. I loved my new body. When I found out I was pregnant I had to obviously quit roller derby and winter snuck in to steal my beautiful walking trails! So far I have gained 26 lbs (I am 6’0 tall and built like an athlete) but it is still scary. I cannot get out and exercise because of this crazy weather and I’m tired all of the time anyways. Everyone (including my husband) says I look great and that they cannot tell but I can. I also cannot stop eating! It is good to know that someone else is going through the same issues. Thank you!

    • I can’t say enough how much your comment means to me. For one, I get the feeling like I’m talking to myself sometimes, so it’s nice to know others are reading this and finding value in it. It also feels really nice to know that someone understands the difficulty in watching your body change. And even worse, there is some sort of stigma that makes me feel guilty for thinking I look fat or like plain shit while pregnant, which makes admitting that feeling very difficult. Thanks for hearing me and understanding.

    • Also, losing 240 lbs is amazing! No matter what you’ve gained with your sweet little nugget, I’m sure you’ll be able to kick the weight once baby comes. Maybe we just need to avoid mirrors and skinny people for awhile? 🙂 Anyway, congrats on your little babe! Only 10 weeks to go!

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