Should I use a doula?

I’m fairly granola about my upcoming delivery (28 weeks today!). My “OB” is a Certified Nurse Midwife, and I’m planning for as natural a birth as my body will do. I’ve had a friend-of-a-friend approach me offering free doula services - she only needs 3 more births to complete her training!

I’m just not sure I want one. I have my mother (who is in nursing school, and had 6 children), my sister, with whom I am very close, and my husband, to be my labor coaches and companions/advocates. So I’m fairly well set with regards to, I dunno, my personal staff? I’m also very body shy - I don’t like strangers seeing me naked. Introducing a doula to the labor process would bump up the amount of people-seeing-me-naked that will go on (I do realize that I’m fighting a losing battle, but I still want to keep that number down).

Dopers, what do you think? Would you use her services? Have I not given enough information? Help me decide!

Sounds like you would be doing it more as a favour to this FOAF than because you want her services.

When giving birth is not a time for be doing favours for others, in my opinion. If you aren’t comfortable with it, politely decline.

This is IMHO, so I will give my opinion, which is that somebody would be foolish to abandon all the equipment and expertise available to them in a hospital if something awful occurred.

I also understand that we’ve generally been giving birth just fine for a few thousand years without doctors, so you’ll probably do great with a doula.

I just personally don’t see anything wrong with the hospital setting and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if my wife or children had something awful happen to them for lack of proper equipment or expertise.

I agree. It sounds like you’d be uncomfortable with her attending, which is basically the OPPOSITE of the reason most people get doulas. Plus, you already have plenty of support, so in addition to being uncomfortable, you don’t need her services anyway.

A doula attend birth wherever the mother wants to give birth, including at a hospital. A doula doesn’t automatically mean a mother won’t be having a hospital birth.

ETA: and so do certfied nurse midwives.

Not sure where you got “homebirth” from the OP, I guess.

Sorry not to be clear - this will be in a hospital. My mother accidentally had me at home, and we now very much believe in hospitals.

Two weeks ago, my wife, who was overdue by 2 weeks, was undilated when her water broke. They were forced to try to induce, because if she had gone all the way to natural delivery, the baby would likely have been too large to fit through her pelvic opening, or have caused so much damage coming out that it would have endangered both of their lives.

As it was, she went into shock before the induction. Her heart rate crashed, as did that of the baby. They were forced to do an emergency c-section. It was done with a minimum of fuss, and our son was born healthy. My wife is now recovering nicely, with no complications.

In any other event, if we had not been in a modern hospital, being taken care of by professional medical personnel, I would likely have lost one or both of them, and be in mourning right now, instead of celebrating the fact that I have a healthy, happy family.

Forget the granola crunchiness, and go with the pros.

Ignorance fought. Didn’t know they were in hospitals as well as at home.

Decline. Lots of pregnant women would love the chance of a free doula. If you would take her, those other women will miss out. She just needs to look a bit further, but that is her problem, not yours.

I had a doula I didn’t really need after all, (had a cesarian and she couldn’t come in the OR) and i actually felt responsible for her that she missed out on a real birth. As Malthus said, giving birth is not a time for be doing favours for others.

It’s really about what you want. I had a doula and reccomed them to anyone who asks. I thought I would be shy about my body but when the time came, I didn’t care. Really the doula was for my husband. She was there to tell him how he could help me. At a time when he felt helpless she would give him suggestions on what he could do for me. She was trained in massage, knew different positions and pressure areas that relived pain. I had back labour so she would get hot water bottles for my back, and got us anything we needed. I went without pain meds and was induced so having her was wonderful.

To clear up any confussion the doula has little to do with the actual birthing of the baby. They are not trained to deliver babies, that is what the doctors and midwives are for. They are support for the parents.

My wife and I were really glad we had our doula, but we didn’t have the family support nearby that you will be having. We had also known our doula for the majority of our pregnancy (she was our Bradley class teacher before we hired her as our doula) so we knew her well by the time the baby came and were comfortable with her.

She did lots of things for us that were helpful, many of them relating to taking pressure off us having to do anything at all other than focus on the birth that was going on. She was a calm head to help us through the scarier times, and she was great emotional support durring the the harder times. There is something nice about having someone who has attended several hundred births telling you “don’t worry, that’s totally normal. You’re doing great”

She also took pictures for us and wrote up a whole birth story for us after everything was over, and came by the house a few times after the baby was born to check up on us and look for signs of postpartum depression and help with breast feeding questions.

In the end it’s up to you though. What you want out of your labor and delivery and what you think the doula could add to that experience.

I had 4 midwife assisted births and I never felt any need for a doula. But the births were uncomplicated and fairly quick. And there were all completely unmedicated.

You’re right, of course. My bad.

Here’s another recent thread about doulas that might help.

Wow - that sounds like quite a crowd! Then again, only my husband was present for our kids’ births.

If this is your first, you might consider the doula. I tried to go natural with #1, went sans medication for 28 hours, then after another four hours, had the baby and promptly had an eclamptic seizure. It would’ve been nice to have had someone to tell me objectively when to just get an epidural and who could’ve been my advocate with the nursing staff, who turned out to be jackasses (my first kid was born in a hospital that has since been dubbed “the baby factory” and the nursing staff got really irritable when you asked questions).

But… For my second, the nursing staff were so wonderful and the birth so smooth, I never felt like I needed an advocate.

If you feel comfortable with your midwife and the staff at the clinic/hospital, I’d say that it sounds like you have enough people to support you that you won’t need an extra; if you don’t feel comfortable, though, I’d at least meet with the doula to see what you think.

This IMO is exactly what a doula is for, someone who’s been there at many births, knows what’s going to happen next and will suggest what you should do. We hired a doula for our first child, who happened via c-section. For the second we went with a midwife and VBAC.

I think in this day and age a lot of women, and men, just know little to nothing about the birthing process. Before the girls would help out and be around for other women’s childbirth. Now how many women have given birth without ever even holding a baby? I think this is what causes all the fear about the birthing process when there should be a lot less.

As for the OP, I don’t think you should go with a doula just because they are your friend. If they are both your friend and a doula-in-training, then they should understand.

I had a doula for my third birth - which was a hospital birth, although just barely, as I delivered the baby about half an hour after arriving at the hospital. (Not on purpose; it was just a much quicker and easier delivery than my previous two and I was in denial about being in active labor for way too long.)

Anyway, even though she was only around for half an hour of the actual labor/delivery, I was really glad my doula was there. She was the one who convinced the nursing staff that I really needed to be examined and taken back to a delivery room right now, she gave me a lot of really good help/support during the pushing stage, and she did plenty of other stuff that I’m sure I’m forgetting now. The best thing, though, was that after the baby was born, she helped me insist that we try nursing the baby before he was taken off to the observation nursery (that hospital’s protocol was that babies born to diabetic mothers had to be observed in a nursery for a couple of hours, but I wanted 20-30 minutes with my newborn before that happened, and my doula helped make it happen). Also, she stayed in the room with me and hung out and kept me company while my husband went off with the baby. That was invaluable.

OK, that all being said, my husband and doula were the only two people there. If I also had my mom and sister around, it sounds like they could likely perform most of the functions that the doula did. So considering that, and the fact that the OP isn’t even really sure she wants a doula, I’d say it’s definitely OK to pass.

My partner and I used a doula when I gave birth, in a hospital. This was in addition to our OB and the hospital staff. We loved her. She was great in preparing us for the birth ahead of time. She was also so helpful to my partner during my labor, giving advice on how my partner could help me during the process (no drugs, so I needed a lot of emotional support!).

We chose our doula after screening a few candidates. We had an acquaintance offer to be our doula because – much like in the OP’s situation – she needed a few more births to get certified. But I didn’t feel comfortable with her. She had the wrong “energy” for me. I know that sounds lame, but for me handling the pain was a lot about having a calm, confident state of mind. So I really wanted someone who would help me feel safe and supported.

I think it is a good idea. My husband spent most of my hard labor in the adjoining bathroom throwing up. He couldn’t handle it and I was alone. Luckily it was a short labor and delivery. The doctor said, “You may want to come out now if you want to see the baby being born”. My husband came out just as my daughter came out like a cannon ball and the Doctor caught her as she splattered blood all over his white coat. I saw the blood draining from my husbands face and then the doctor asked him would you like to see the placenta and passes over a bowl with it in it and he took one look at that and ran back in the bathroom and began puking again! :rolleyes:

As a veteran of four crunchy births, I say if you feel uncomfortable say no. Sounds like you have plenty of support.
This next bit is just personal story about how feelings change from birth to birth.

With my first birth I was very protective and was even kind of rude to a friend who wanted to be there. I really did not want a big audience.

By my fourth birth, I ended up having a doula-in-training I met on the internet come just so she could see a birth center birth and the midwife had a midwife-in-training following her. I didn’t feel like I needed the doula’s services at all, I really was just doing her a favor. In fact I didn’t feel like I needed any of the seven or so people hanging around (including my mother and husband). I pretty much ignored those folks. I didn’t mind them being there, just didn’t care.