First off, I commend you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to prepare for this monumental time in your life. During your childbirth classes, the topic of SUPPORT will likely come up. Who will be providing support? Why is support important? When do you need it? What does it look like? Your educator might talk about the role of a doula, a professional who provides said support to women and their partners during labor. What do you do with that information? Oh, a doula sounds nice, but we don't need one because we're taking a childbirth class instead.
Say what? I've heard it before and what I would like to talk about is how a childbirth class doesn't replace the role of a doula. Lets look at several reasons why.
1) You wont remember everything you're taught during your class- Take it from me, and many other women who agree, when you're in the heat of the moment, the important things you're taught will be difficult to draw upon. A common statement I hear from women is; "everything just went out the window once labor started". It's a lot to ask for your partner to remember all of the helpful details you learned during your class. It's impossible for you, the laboring woman, to remember everything too.
Lets say you're told you need to lay in bed while you're being monitored. Like a good patient, you agree to that, although it's very uncomfortable! Wouldn't it be nice to have someone offer more comfortable position options, which still allow for fetal monitoring?
2) Doulas are not JUST for unmedicated births- during your class you conclude that an epidural is for you! You want to experience the least amount of pain possible. That's great! However, you're still going to need to get through early labor or even parts of active labor, using natural comfort techniques. The moment you feel your first contraction, you don't rush to the hospital for your epidural. If you do that, you most likely won't be admitted, because you're still in early labor. In order to get an epidural, you need to be admitted. Cue the DOULA! Your doula will provide those comfort techniques before, during and after your epidural is placed.
3) You CAN'T prepare for every outcome- Labor and birth are so unpredictable. Very rarely is there a "textbook labor". As an educator myself, I emphasize that every birth will look different. I cannot prepare you for every event. However, a doula who is continually by your side during labor can help you cope with changes that take place in your birth plan. We can often remind you of options or alternatives, or help make the best of the change that is taking place. For the record, THERE ARE ALMOST ALWAYS GOING TO BE UNEXPECTED EVENTS DURING LABOR. It could be something like a little bit of back labor, or it could be something more complex, like Pregnancy Induced Hypertension.
4) BIRTH BAG! Remember when your educator told you all about the peanut ball, rebozo, essential oils and the TENS unit? Don't go buy all that stuff!! We have all of it and know how and when to use it! We bring our birth bag with us, and can pull out these tools when you request them or when we see they can useful.
5) Your partner needs a doula too- Doulas and partners go hand in hand. A doula will enhance your partner's confidence in providing emotional support. If your partner feels uncomfortable or helpless in any situation, we are there to guide them as well. We can "take turns" providing comfort measures, your partner can go grab coffee and smell some fresh air for a moment knowing that YOU are being cared for.
So you tell me, did you take a childbirth class and skip the doula?
Did you hire a doula with your second baby?
Your childbirth educator AND your doula
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