"The bottom line: If you are having a baby, you will not regret hiring Dana to be your doula. She's smart, knowledgeable, compassionate and so encouraging. If you are in a position to work with her, do it! She is there to take the extra stress off of you and your partner, and that is an incredible gift to new parents. Should my husband and I have another baby, I would want her to be there with us again. She's the caring, supportive, unsinkable person that you need at your side. Even (or especially when) things go off plan, she helps you deal with that and stay focused.
Deciding on a Doula
I didn't know much about Doula services when I got pregnant. I knew generally what it was, but thought this was something strictly for a non-medicated natural birth and I didn't know if that was something that I wanted or not.
This was my first pregnancy, I was nervous about the delivery and (being a little bit of a nerd) I began doing some research on what I could do to reduce my risk of c-section. I was convinced that hiring a doula would be a good thing after reading an article from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists on safe prevention of cesareans. The article observed that having a professional support person provides a significant reduction in c-section rates. After that, I began interviewing doulas and ultimately found Dana. I am so glad I did!
When I'd discussed doulas with various people prior to working with Dana, people said things like "you only need a doula if your husband isn't supportive" or "that's what the L&D nurses are for". Knowing what I do today, I couldn't disagree with those comments more!!! My husband is very supportive, but having a baby is a major event - it's stressful for both partners and having Dana there made a huge difference for both of us in the amount of stress we had to bear. Afterward, my husband said, "wow, I get it now. It was totally worth it to have her there!".
In regards to the second objection I heard, I would say that while the L&D nurses are there to check on you, take vitals and ensure your medical care is managed, they are not there to support you during the other 98% of the time when you are just working through your labor. Honestly, that is a time you are going to need some support!
Having a doula turned out to be a good thing for us, but having Dana specifically was a GREAT thing.
It was late in my pregnancy when I started looking around for a Doula (34 weeks), but not too late! Man, we did not know how much we were getting when we decided to work with Dana. While we would have had more opportunity to meet and get to know each other if we'd started earlier, I'd still encourage anyone thinking about getting doula support to reach out to Dana, even if it's right before delivery. We were able to have two meetings prior to delivery, which gave us a chance to get to know Dana and us to start thinking over how we would like to handle any of the situations that could come up. It was a time to ask questions, do some planning (and then contingency planning) and get comfortable with everything we were about to encounter. One of the things that I really appreciated about Dana was that she was very committed to helping you have the kind of birth that you want, medicated or not. I was concerned a doula would push for "all natural" more than I wanted, but Dana had no personal agenda at all. She was ready and able to answer questions and would genuinely support you in any decision and provide whatever information or resources that she could in order to help you make an educated choice.
Due to health issues, I ended up being induced at 37 weeks. For whatever reason (induction, I would guess) rather than a linear progression of labor, things were pretty calm for a while and I was able to breathe through the contractions without too much pain. Then we hit a point of incredible and sudden intensity in the contractions with no time in between. Dana had said to call her when we needed her - when we called and let her know we were ready for her to join us, she was able to give me some positions to try to ease the pain of back labor before she headed our way. Per our plan, when I couldn't take it anymore, I called for an epidural. Dana arrived and it was such a relief to have her there. While the epidural helped with the pain we still had a sense of "overwhelm" and uncertainty, which Dana really helped to dispel as soon as she arrived. She was part of our team the whole day - she used pressure points on my feet to help stop with the shivering that the epidural caused. She frequently helped me change positions in bed, came over just to chat and just generally offered support for the entire day I was in labor. The whole tone of the day changed with her on our team...it wasn't just me and my husband figuring out what to do alone anymore. I'm so glad she was there with us. Dana was with us for about 15 or 16 hours. She tirelessly encouraged me and my husband and she literally held one of my legs for 3.5 hours while I pushed. In the intensity of the delivery, I didn't realize that Dana had actually been able to capture a quick photo and video of my newly born daughter (from a very discreet view above my shoulders!) which was a wonderful and cherished surprise. Dana was a great resource for us the entire time that we were together; when medical staff presented us with options or decisions, Dana did not join the conversations, but she would share what she saw as pros and cons if we asked. She did a great job of providing non-medical support, knowing where to be, and being thoughtful and accommodating to everyone. After she'd left for the night, a few of the L&D nurses commented to me how helpful it had been to have her present as well. She was so knowledgeable one of the L&D nurses asked if Dana was a former L&D nurse.
I wish you other mamas-to-be the very best, and encourage you to reach out to Dana early in your pregnancy if you can! She was excellent to work with and is really gifted in getting you through an intense time!"