I feel like such a hypocrite! I’m a doula for gosh sake! But please, let me explain.
When I’ve said that I won’t be hiring a doula, people would say “well that makes sense, you’re a doula so you already know it all”. Let me tell you, that is definitely not the reason. As much as I “know”, that won’t really help me when I am the person in labor, in pain and in need of support.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe in the role of the doula and all the benefits they have to offer a woman and her partner during birth and postpartum. For example:
A doula provides continuation of care.
When you hire a doula you form a relationship and trust. This continuation of care is so valuable because most often during birth, a pregnant woman and her partner are on their own. If you’re having a hospital birth, nurses who you have never met before pop in and out, and you may see the doctor or midwife once or twice before the pushing stage. That is, if your doctor or midwife are available. It could be a different person depending on who’s on call. So there is a very real possibility that you won’t know a single person in your hospital room during your delivery!
Even if you are having a home birth, there’s still not a guarantee of which midwife will be on call when you go into labor, and you may have only met her once or twice.
A doula is a wonderful solution to these scenarios. Not to mention the physical and emotional support that she provides throughout her care.
A doula is an advocate for your birth wishes.
Often times a woman can feel like she is swimming upstream to get the kind of care she wants in a hospital setting. I remember some of my doula clients were very dissatisfied with their doctor, but because of insurance limitations, they were one of the only doctors they could get. Things like only wanting intermittent fetal heart monitoring or delayed cord clamping felt like a battle with these doctors that wanted to do what was most convenient for them.
Even the simplest of things, like wanting to eat during labor or wear her own clothes, it’s not that they were a battle, but it still wasn’t the hospital norm and felt kind of like rubbing the wrong way against the ways things are done there. So I was so glad I was there to support my doula clients in their births during these scenarios.
So why then am I not hiring a doula?
I have decided to hire a solo midwife, which means I meet with her throughout my entire pregnancy and I am guaranteed to have her at my birth (except in the very rare instance that she is extremely ill or has a family emergency). This solves the continuation of care issue that doulas are a great solution for.
I have also chosen to give birth at home which solves a lot of the swimming upstream issues women often face in hospital births and even sometimes in home births with certain midwives whose philosophies might not align with your own. Therefore, I have chosen a midwife that fully aligns with my birth wishes, so I don’t feel the need for an advocate. She also stays for the entirety of my labor as a doula would, only stepping out to eat and rest, when then I will have my husband by my side for support.
She is also experienced with using essential oils, hypnobirthing and many other comfort measures that a doula would use. And if the scenario arises that I do need to transfer to the hospital, she comes with me and serves as my doula.
Most midwives are covered by insurance here in the Netherlands, and my birth will thankfully be covered, however a solo midwife does ask for an additional €1,000, because we have longer prenatal visits and because of the length of time that they spend at births is usually longer than regular midwives. So I am also not hiring a doula because my doula budget is going to having a solo midwife.
I also plan to train my husband in many of the things I learned in my doula training, so I feel very confident that with my specially chosen midwife and my husband by my side I will be set up for success.
If all this wasn’t the case, I would 100% have a doula at my birth.
If you have given birth with a solo midwife and still regret not having a doula at your birth, please do share, it’s also not too late for me to change my mind.
What about a postpartum doula?
My favorite work as a doula was my postpartum work. What a beautiful service that every woman deserves. And guess what? The Dutch government provides the equivalent of a postpartum doula/nurse for almost free for 8 days, 6-8 hours a day, for every woman after birth. This angel is called a Kraamzorg and with my insurance will cost about €4.5/hr. I know, it’s almost too good to be true.
Sometimes they will be randomly assigned a Kraamzorg to you and you may even get two different people during the 8 days, but I was fortunate to find a solo Kraamzorg who I will get to meet twice before and who will help me for the entire 8 days.
My husband will also have two weeks off work immediately after the birth and then through the Dutch government is able to take an additional 3 weeks off for 70% of his pay anytime within 6 months after the birth. So we will use those as needed.
Then I will have a stream of family coming to support me. My mom and dad are coming two weeks after my due date to help me for a few weeks, and then my mother and father in law are coming a month after that to help. I know for some people their family coming to visit isn’t really helpful and can actually add more stress, but I am very blessed with family who I know will be helpful and I am so looking forward to them coming to visit.
I definitely have the contact info of many great postpartum doula’s in the area, and I will not hesitate to contact them if I feel I need some help during any of the weeks between my husband being off work and my parents coming to visit.
What about you, did you have a doula at your birth or postpartum?