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Doula

megumic

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 8, 2009
Messages
1,647
Has anyone used a doula for their birth(s) or planning to use one this time around? We would like to hire one and have begun the search, however I'm wondering if anyone can provide some insight or advice on what to look for in an awesome doula. I'm also wondering what It cost you. Thanks!
 

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Loves Vintage

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Nov 19, 2007
Messages
4,491
I would look for experience (how many births attended?) and demonstrated commitment to doula'ing as an occupation. I think there are a lot of doulas out there who kind of fall in love with the idea of being a doula, but they don't really need to do it for the compensation, so they aren't all that committed to it. That's my impression anyway. I think about some of the doulas that I've seen at NYC hospitals on those TLC baby shows. Those ladies seem dedicated! I've never come across a doula like that IRL.

My doula was good. It was awkward because my birth experience was very long, so there was a lot of waiting around. I actually asked her to leave because it was clear that things were going to take a while, and it was awkward having a near total stranger hanging out with us. She was a trooper and came back when things finally picked up speed. I probably wouldn't have another doula if I am fortunate enough to have another baby.

Her fee was $400, which seems quite low given the amount of time she spent with us. Not sure what the certification requirements are in your state, but here, a doula needs to attend two births for certification. Friends have had beginner doulas who hadn't been certified yet. Doulas don't (can't?) charge a fee (here anyway) for attending births before their certification.
 

ChinaCat

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Messages
1,829
I didn't have a doula, but I considered it. For me, one of the big things was personality. I get easily annoyed by certain types and so I would make sure I felt 100% comfortable with the person. Also, what is her "coaching" style? Think of it like a personal trainer. Some people want someone to yell and push them or be super cheery and say really peppy things. I would have wanted to hit both of those types in labor. Think about what you need to help you.

Also, I assume you aren't, but if you plan on getting an epidural, I'm not sure a doula is necessary. I think they are helpful in keeping you focused and giving you support, esp when it gets tough (i.e., during transition).
 

phoenixgirl

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 20, 2003
Messages
3,369
My husband's best friend's wife (a close friend) is going to be my doula this time around. I did not have one the first time. She is in training and needs to attend 6 births before she can start charging money, so I initially asked about it/agreed to it thinking I could help her out, but now I am excited about the thought of having her there.

I had a C/S with my first and will be attempting a VBAC this time, but there is a good chance I'll have a C/S one way or another. Even then, I will be glad to have someone focused on *me* this time. For example, last time I was not technically induced, but I had my membranes stripped. I had an IV bag with antibiotics because I was strep B positive. At some point somebody said, "Oh! Stop the pitocin! She's already at 10!" Nobody told me they were putting pitocin in my bag . . . that's the kind of thing my doula will point out. "Oh, it looks like they are adding pitocin to your bag. Is that OK with you?" They also tried to move the baby from being stuck by tilting my bed a certain way. Again, no one told me this, and I know a doula would have acted as an intermediary. As a first-timer, I didn't know to ask. They were the experts, after all . . .

Also, when they called for the C/S, they had my husband go get dressed in scrubs . . . and then forgot to bring him back until I was already open on the table. Quite a way to greet him when he came in. I know my doula will make sure nobody forgets my husband!

Then I was put back in L&D while we waited for a room in maternity to open up. DH was watching DD at the nursery, and I was alone, and an anesthesiologist came in and was like, "OK, great, I'm here for your epidural." What if I had been too incapacitated to tell him I didn't need an epidural because I'd already had my baby?

Beyond these "oops" moments which HOPEFULLY were a one time thing and not normal operating procedure for this hospital (believe it or not, it's considered to be the best maternity hospital in the area), even if I have a c/s this time, I want a doula there to advocate for me. I want to nurse ASAP. I don't want to be sitting around for an hour or two by myself without my baby like I was last time. I want someone who can worry about ME when my husband is worrying about our new baby and our toddler at home. Somebody to bring me snacks when I need them, or find music I like on my iPod, or run to the store to get whatever I forgot.
 

lovebug1031

Shiny_Rock
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Dec 18, 2008
Messages
348
My very very best friend is actually a doula. You definitely need to "click" with them, depending on the area the fees vary greatly. She's based in Northern VA/DC so she can def. charge a premium for her services. However, doulas aren't necessarily just there for "birth coaching". They should help you make a birth plan if you choose and be well read and up to date on the medical side of things...they're kind of your baby expert. They can also be post-partum doulas; to help you with lactation/latching or to take over to let you sleep through the night, basically whatever you and the baby need.

As some of the others have said, some are more dedicated than others, so its finding a right balance of what you need/expect.
 

Skippy123

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 24, 2006
Messages
24,299
My ultimate goal was to get a Doula!!! I was cheerleading that I wanted a doula. I think my birthing class and yoga and use of imagery helped me. When it was time for me to give birth I did not want any help. I wanted quiet and a clear mind to get past the contractions. No one ever mentioned to me what contractions would Really feel like! lol So in our birthing class we learned massage and the spouses did too but I gave my own back massage and didn't want anyone around me. haha I was in my own little world. They wanted to call a doula since that is what I had envisioned wanting but then changed my mind. I made to 8 cm dilated and 99% effaced before I wanted the epi. Anway, I know lots of people who used doula's and loved them but when the time came to give birth, I ended up not wanting one.
 

diamondseeker2006

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 11, 2006
Messages
55,112
My daughter had a baby in Nov. and one of her friends is a certified doula. My daughter was open to an epidural but wanted to go natural if she could. She started contractions at 11pm and that doula came over to her house in the middle of the night! She was able to tell them when it was time to go to the hospital, which was about 5 am. The baby was born around 8:30am and the midwife in her OB practice delivered the baby. My daughter was able to make it without the epidural really due to having the doula. That meant she could be up, in the tub, or in any position she wanted which really made a difference for her. The doula really does know what is going on and can be that intermediary aside from the coaching. She was not charging my daughter but they did give her a gift of half her normal fee which is $500.
 

MichelleCarmen

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 8, 2003
Messages
15,880
To begin your search, possibly ask midwife clinics for some names. Be sure to get LOTS of references and find a certified doula who has attended many births. Make sure that you contact the references and ask what the doula did during the birth, if they were adaptable under the conditions of the birth (as birthing is unpredictable), how long they stayed and if what sort of facility they're experienced in giving birth in - ideally, you want to find a woman who's worked with both midwives (if that's the route you're taking) and doctors and has been there for vag and c/section births!!! ETA - also ask for the doula for specific examples how she'll make you comfortable. Ask her to describe previous experiences she has had and what she did during those!

I did have a doula at my birth and she turned out to be horrible. I had found her on a list group for moms of my local area and she had supposedly trained just not certified yet and I trusted her because everyone else on that list did. I assumed she had been there at some of the births. To make it short: she was lazy, layed around talking to the nurses, ate CANDY BARS (and keep in mind I had gestational diabetes so she was stuffing snickers bars in her mouth while I was being poked with needles!), and then she left the hospital as soon as my midwife said I needed a c/s.

I seriously doubt you'll encounter what I did. The mistake was trusting her word that she would do as promised. I should have asked my midwife group about contacts!
 

Skippy123

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 24, 2006
Messages
24,299
Oh geez MC!!! that is terrible.

My sister loved her doula's both times she gave birth. I think if you find one you click with then they are great!!!
 

megumic

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 8, 2009
Messages
1,647
Thanks for the advice ladies! We are on the hunt so hopefully we find the right one!
 

swimmer

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 9, 2007
Messages
2,516
Megumic,
Good luck!
I would just ask what she will do if labor takes a long time. We hired a doula that we clicked with and met several times beforehand... I started having contractions on Monday night, called her to give her the heads up, she met us at the hospital Tues at 8am for my 42 week appt and they said if I wanted to go naturally then go home and labor, the doula came with us and we went back Tuesday at 9pm after lots of hard labor that she was really helpful for. She was great at helping us establish w/ the staff that I was going to do this with no interventions and it helped me get into a room with a whirlpool tub I think. She then took the spouse bed and slept (which was good, but DH had to sleep on the floor) she woke up and went home to walk her dog, then came back for a few hours, and then left without telling me or DH. I finally had baby E at lunch on TH and I think she was really helpful at first esp at home. No hospital was going to let me be in natural labor for 52hrs in the hospital, they would have insisted on pitocin or something. But she abandoned us mid labor and that was just wrong. Oh, she kept her payment as we had pre-paid, I'd suggest only paying .5 in advance? We live in a major city so her fee was twice what was discussed above. My sister had a way better experience with a doula, came to her apt and knew the exact moment to jump in the cab, but hers was not allowed into the hospital. I got mine's name from my hospital's midwives, but they have since taken her off the list of approved doulas. Maybe your practice or hospital can be of assistance with your search? Good luck. Even though ours was ultimately a fail, I think she really helped DH to understand how instrumental he could be in helping the labor process. It set a great precedent that we are equal partners, just with different roles to play in parenting.
 

Miscka

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 9, 2007
Messages
1,938
I would totally look into it! I had a med-free birth, and the support was necessary for sure. My aunt was a L&D nurse for 20 years, and she came. I also had my husband, and my midwife actually functioned as a sort of doula, because she was waiting out a non-compete clause and couldn't technically "catch" so she came as soon as I got to the hospital (I labored at home 12 hours first) and provided support. For my next birth my husband and I totally agree that we want a doula, since we probably won't happen upon as much support! Without all of them I am not sure I would have made it, or at least not felt as good about it. It definitely took all their hands to help get heating packs, water, etc.

As far as where to find them - here in my town we have a really cool resource (shout out to Swimmer's friend!) in a shop that has not only retail items but birthing classes, yoga classes, etc. They maintain a very helpful recommendation list, and even host a "meet the doulas" night. Also, I believe the woman that taught my birthing class was a doula. Another option would be to go to a La Leche League meeting and ask around. There are actually a number of women in my chapter who ARE doulas, or training to be. I agree about personality...I found out a girl I know from LLLI is training and I got so excited, because she strikes me as the MOST calming person, and I think she would make a great doula for me.

Good luck!!
 
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