Monday, June 30, 2008

Doula

Stacey asked about our doula. What do they do, why do we need one, does everyone need one, etc.

Hm. Doulas are awesome. They provide support during labor. Ideas. Suggestions. Encouragement. During my labor with D, I was having tons of back labor (ouchie). Our doula suggested that we try lunges followed by the use of a rebozo (you can Google that if you want, but it's basically a big piece of fabric that is wrapped around mom and kind of wiggled to help the baby change positions). Anyway, 5 minutes later (well, okay, so the serious work came in with the doula trying to talk me into getting out of the bathtub to try these things), my labor had moved around the to the front, and within 20 minutes, I was pushing. Pretty great.

So, that's kind of a snapshot of what doulas do. They aren't medical people. They are support people.

Whether or not any particular person needs one is kind of up to what that person wants or needs during labor. I wanted a natural, med-free birth. With my first baby, I went into the hospital thinking that if I just did what I was told, it would all turn out well. But, well, it didn't. With my second baby, I had a doula. And I had a natural birth. And it was awesome.

I don't know, but I think a doula would also be great in any kind of situation where Dad needs to go with Baby, so Mom won't be left alone. Or if Dad can't be there, for whatever reason. Or just to give Dad a chance to hit the bathroom without Mom feeling abandoned.

One of my very favorite things about having a doula is what it says. You don't have to pause in the middle of a contraction to tell every nurse and doctor what you want, or expect them to read your birth plan (though you hope they do). A doula's presence (though not her mouth, because she can't speak for you) says that you want a less medically-managed birth.

Here are the stats doulas offer:
50% reduction in the cesarean rate
25% shorter labor
60% reduction in epidural requests
40% reduction in oxytocin use
30% reduction in analgesia use
40% reduction in forceps delivery

So, what kind of frugal person pays for a doula? Well, the kind of person who realizes how much cheaper a doula is than an epidural or c-section.

To address Stacey in particular, does someone having their 6th baby need a doula? Only if you want one. But, to me, it's right up there with the car seat in the necessity category.

As to why someone might want a natural birth (though you don't need to want that to benefit from a doula), well, that's an entirely different topic.

6 comments:

Stacey said...

Hello, Thanks for the information. I think I will check into having a doula. I never had any medication during labor and didn't have any complications, however my anxiety has gone through the roof knowing the pain that is coming. I think it would be nice to have someone there to help calm me. (I have a low tolerance to pain). Thanks a bunch!!!
Stacey

Tenille said...

Helping stay calm is definitely a great reason to get a doula!

And 5 births with no pain meds? Count me totally impressed!!! :)

zdoodlebub said...

Crap, I wish I had known all this. I'm (almost for certainly) done giving birth, but I totally would have paid $265 (is that the total amount? and I know it's a regional thing for rates...) for all the support you described. I ended up with an epidural and then pitocin for #1 and the worry will always nag me as to whether that complicated z's system. And I had a c-section for #2 only because his arm was coming down first, not because there was any emergency. I was so determined to do everything naturally the second time that when they said we had to do surgery, I had to be totally put under because it was too late for an epidural - and as such, dad was not allowed in the OR.

I don't lie awake at night wishing our birth stories were different or anything, but I still wish I would have had someone describe a doula to me the way you did.

Tenille said...

$265 is the total amount. I paid $400 for my last doula, but that included mileage, since she lived 3 hours away. I think it varies a lot, but some doulas are also able to provide a sliding scale based on your income.

HOWEVER, I want to emphasize that after my first birth I was so wracked with guilt that I had already "messed up" as a parent because I'd had an epidural. I put WAY too much emphasis on the birth experience, when really, it's one day. One day in your life and a day the baby won't even remember, no matter what some whackies might say.

Really, the best part about having a natural birth? Is that I didn't feel like crap afterwards. In fact I felt GREAT. No drugs to get out my system, I healed so much faster because I could feel to push and so didn't need an epsiotomy, I just felt better.

zdoodlebub said...

I agree, my kids are here and healthy, I don't spend much time fretting about the circumstances of how...

But if I had known better, I'd have paid for that kind of care, wisdom and support. You're perspective on the subject is cool and not too granola-y (even though I love granola) - something I will definitely be passing along to others.

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