Do You Need a Doula?


Isn’t it funny how you kind of put off thinking about the pain of childbirth when you first get pregnant? It’s like you morph into Scarlett O’Hara: “I’ll think about it tomorrow.” I guess that’s a defensive thing. I mean, if women thought about the pain right from the start, we’d clamp our legs shut tight and the human race would come to an end.

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Well, now that tomorrow is here and I near the end of my second trimester, I’m starting to mull what I’m facing. Gulp.

I had to have a C-section with my first pregnancy because I had preclampsia. I was bummed because I wanted the chance to push. Then again, I was absolutely terrified to push. Somehow, passing a baby through my she-hole seems about as easy as pushing a watermelon through my nostril. I know, I know—women have done it for millions of years. It’s just that this particular woman was—and is—a little freaked about it.

My doctor is encouraging me to have another C-section. It seems that complications from a vaginal birth are incredibly rare, but if you have a problem, it’s pretty severe. I’ve got one scheduled, but I’m still not sold.

There’s also the question of to doula or not to doula. What’s a doula, you ask? Well, most people think of a doula as a person who helps during the birth. She’s not a midwife because she doesn’t actually deliver the baby. Instead, she is the one who takes care of the parents emotionally. Basically, she is in charge of pampering—at least that’s how I see it. She’s the one who will rub your back or get you ice chips or hold your husband’s hand when he is about to faint. She walks you through the birth process which, let’s face it, unless you are Mama Dugger and have 19 kids, you’re not a pro at. My guess is there is nothing more comforting than having a doula in the room.

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When Maisie was born, I didn’t have a doula lined up for the birth. It didn’t make sense for a C-section. Instead, I used a doula when Maisie got home. So in stepped Debbie the Doula from Northeast Doulas. So what’s a doula cost? Well, labor support generally ranges from $1150 and 1500. Postpartum help is $35 per hour with a four-hour minimum during the day and eight at night. Rates are discounted for large blocks of time. Unlike a baby nurse, Debbie went to the grocery store, cooked dinner, straightened the house, and took charge of things so I could focus on Maisie. She taught Tom and me how to give our little girl a bath and helped the dog adjust to the new little one. I was really nervous about taking Digby and Maisie on a walk together, so out Debbie and I went, baby and dog in tow. Breastfeeding didn’t come easily, either. Somehow it was far easier to let Debbie—a total stranger— poke around my boobs than it was to let my mother-in-law do it.

Will I use her this go-around? I’m not sure. I’ve got the mothering thing down and a support system in place. I know what to expect this time. But if you’ve got a big ol’ belly and are about to pop, definitely consider a doula. It’s like hiring a best friend for one of the biggest times of your life.

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