We have reached the point in this pregnancy where it is time to start looking for a doula. A doula is a person (usually a woman) who is present throughout the birth to provide emotional and physical support to the mother during her birthing time and post-partum.
We didn’t have a doula last time with the Grasshopper. We took Bradley Birth classes last time, and our teacher at the time discouraged us from hiring a doula. In Bradley, there is much emphasis placed on the husband/father as coach, so I think this is why she advised against doulas. In retrospect, I see that this was not the best advice for us.
This time I am doing Hypnobabies, so I fully expect the dynamic to be completely different. In fact, this is my intent. My experience with the Grasshopper was good. But I want something different for this birth. I’ve learned some lessons, and I prefer to take that knowledge and move forward.
One of the things I learned is that, yeah, I really do need someone else there to help out. This is not a knock on my husband. He absolutely did a great job last time, especially considering that he was thrown into an unfamiliar situation that was loaded with stress and pressure from all sides. I look forward to childbirth. He dreads it.
At first when I started talking to him about hiring a doula, he was worried. He thought that the doula would replace him and take over his role. This should not be the case at all. A lot of the experiences of the birth felt strange and uncomfortable to him, and having someone there to navigate that processs with him, I hope, will give him more comfort with the entire process.
In poking around, trying to find some resources for him, I stumbled across this article from Doula.com: Dads and Doulas: Working Together.
A doula is there to help the father, as much as she helps the mother. The fact of the matter is, our society places a great deal of pressure and responsibility on the father-to-be during labor. A childbirth class isn’t enough to prepare a new, nervous dad to support his wife through what may be one of the most difficult and challenging moments in her life. Is it fair to expect the father to remain 100% focused and calm, when his wife is struggling?
Emphasis mine. I appreciate the perspective here. This article really helps us understand how the doula will fit in to our own situation.
I asked my midwives (gosh I love saying that!) for some recommendations on some doulas they work with, and they gave me a few business cards. I’ve been able to reach two of them, and we have meetings set up for this week. Tomorrow, we’ll be having lunch with Doula 1, and then next Tuesday Doula 2 is coming to our house to meet us.
Doula 2 said that she prefers for her clients to meet with her in their homes so that they can see how she interacts with them in their own comfort zone and especially how she interacts with other children. I like this notion. My sister-in-law will be with us and will help care for the Grasshopper, but I love that Doula 2 considered the Grasshopper and her feelings as well as my husband’s and my feelings. This impresses me.
I spent this weekend trying to figure out what kinds of questions to ask these doulas during the interview. DONA International, one of the organizations that certifies and trains doulas, has an article with some questions to ask in their How to Hire a Doula section, but there were some more specific questions we had as well.
Here is the list of questions we came up with for us to ask the doulas (some of these come straight from the DONA page):
- What training have you had? (If a doula is certified, you might consider checking with the organization.)
- Do you have one or more backup doulas for times when you are not available? May we meet her/them?
- What is your fee, what does it include and what are your refund policies?
- Tell me about your experience as a birth doula.
- What is your philosophy about birth and supporting women and their partners through labor?
- What is your familiarity and comfort level with Hypnobabies? Will you be willing to do some reading and study to prepare for providing support for me during hypnosis?
- Will you assist in writing a birth plan?
- Can you give some examples of some of the ways you provide comfort during the birthing time? Massage? Aromatherapy? Do you proactively suggest position changes and movements?
- In what ways will you help Mr. Grasshopper during the labor?
- How will you fit in to the birth team since we are birthing with midwives at a birth center as opposed to a hospital? Are you familiar with waterbirth?
- At what point during my birthing time will you come? Will you come to the house? The birth center?
- Do you take pictures? Keep track of details to help me write out the birth story later?
- What kind of support do you provide after the birth?
I’m sure there are plenty of more questions that will come up during our meetings with the doulas. I am excited to see where the conversation will take us.
I feel like this really puts us one step closer to bringing this baby into the world, and it’s so exciting!