Three weeks ago we welcomed our ninth baby into this world and our family. Lydia Rose was born on December 30th after a ridiculously easy labor and natural delivery weighing in at 9 pounds 1 ounce. While labor and delivery was a piece of cake my immediate postpartum recovery was quite the challenge. Praise the Lord it was nothing life threatening, but difficult nonetheless. After everything settled down, I became acutely aware that much of my postpartum issues could have easily been minimized and maybe even avoided if I had only included a doula in my childbirth plan.
What exactly is a doula? Well, a doula is a trained and qualified labor, delivery, and postpartum advocate for the MOTHER. I’m not yelling at you, but simply stressing that a doula’s primary focus is to assist the mother in whatever needs she may have while in labor, birthing, or during the postpartum phase. The actually services provided by a doula can range from helping the pregnant mama the last few weeks of pregnancy, to helping with pain management techniques during labor, as well as assisting with breastfeeding. Every doula has their own set of services they provide. I highly recommend you interview multiple doulas to find one that will best fit your needs during the final days of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
Prior to my pregnancy with our eighth child, I had only vaguely heard of doulas, as they were not exactly prevalent in our rural Alabama town. But, with the arrival of an avid natural childbirth OBGYN to our community, the interest and need for doulas quickly increased. As natural childbirth classes and resources became more readily available so did the demand for trained doulas. When I became pregnant with our eighth baby, I was educated on the advantages of having a doula be apart of my childbirth plan. After witnessing the blessing many of my friends had experienced while birthing with a doula; we decided to hire one too. It truly was wonderful to have someone directly working to meet my needs so that I could simply focus on delivering and cuddling my precious new baby.
For many different reasons, we opted not to have a doula for our ninth pregnancy. Looking back, I now realize I hadn’t truly grasped the significance of having a doula present for my labor and delivery (until after my baby was born); even if I was well educated about their specific, yet unique services and had used one before. But, one reason I didn’t pursue a doula was because I prefer to be left alone during labor. Most folks would equate a doulas greatest job to helping mothers with pain management techniques during labor. I just assumed, since I didn’t need a doula during my labor, that it was unnecessary for one to be present throughout the remainder of my childbirth experience as well: unfortunately, I was gravely wrong!!
After I deliver my babies, I kind of go into a ‘mini shock’. I literally just can’t function. I can’t talk, much less communicate my needs. My attention AND everyone else’s traditionally turns to the baby at this point. Yet, the mother, who just birthed a human being is kind of tossed to the side as she’s roughly doctored up and a sheet is thrown over her. A beautiful and wonderful event can quickly turn into an unnecessary catastrophe. I can honestly say, out of all nine of my deliveries, the best and least traumatic was the one where I had a doula at my side; forseeing my needs before I even knew I had them. Husbands are great, don’t get me wrong, but for the most part, even they are clueless as to what a mama needs during the throws of childbirth.
The great thing is there’s no excuse these days why most pregnant mamas can’t experience the blessing of a doula as most insurance companies, even medicaid, gives allowances for doula services. Labor, childbirth, and postpartum is hard enough without having to suffer through unmet needs. With a doula’s services, I can assure you, every mama will receive the care she deserves. I’d encourage all pregnant mamas to research and educate themselves on the benefits of having a doula present during childbirth. Regardless of your childbirth method, a doula truly can help to make labor, delivery, and postpartum a peaceful event for every mama. And this my friends, is exactly why every pregnant mama should include a doula in their birth plan.