Sunday, March 18, 2012

Doula Decision

I first heard of doulas before I was married, if I recall correctly. Some roommates were watching one of those getting ready for baby kind of shows and I caught a few minutes of it and the particular couple they were following had a doula. I didn't think much of it at the time.

Using a doula didn't even cross my mind when I was expecting Gareth. I didn't know anyone else who had used one, still didn't even know what they were, really, and certainly couldn't have afforded one even if I had wanted one. But it was far more on my mind this time around. I knew even before I was pregnant that I would want this labor and delivery to be drastically different from my previous one. And this time I actually knew some people who used doulas and one who is training to be a doula. I'm not much better-read this pregnancy than last time around, but did take the time to read one book (one more than I bothered with last time) that was recommended by a friend. The book is actually for the birth partner or doula, but I found it very informative for myself as well. Ryan is dutifully trying to work his way through the couple of chapters I told him were most important to read. At the beginning of this pregnancy I went so far as to do a quick Google search for Seattle doulas, primarily curious to know how ridiculously expensive they were here. And just about died when I saw some of the charges. Doulas often charge $1000 to attend your birth, some charge well over that (I've been told that some charge as much as $2000), and some a little less ($750 or so). I quickly put any budding idea of using a doula out of my head, seeing as they aren't covered by insurance and are not considered a qualified FSA expense. Besides, Ryan would be there as my support person, so why pay someone to do that job?

As Ryan has been working his way through the book, and as I've been re-reading the same chapters in the book, we both started to realize that this could be rather difficult to do on our own. While I'm not the type of person to feel a failure and hate myself if I end up with an epidural, I'd definitely prefer to forego that option this time around. Sometimes I'm very doubtful I can withstand the pain, but I'm also incredibly stubborn, so it'll basically be a battle between my stubbornness and the pain. Though second births are supposed to be faster, I feel we have nothing to judge by since I was induced last time around. This birth could actually take longer than Gareth's without the pitocin to force things faster. I started to be concerned about Ryan getting tired being the only support person, especially if things take a while. If he's alone then it would be difficult for him to take a break to eat or rest or just emotionally/mentally recharge himself, and then he wouldn't be able to help me as well. Then I was talking with another co-op parent and she told me that they used a doula who wasn't certified yet, but who was working toward certification with DONA. Their doula charged them much less than a certified doula would, and in return they wrote a review for her after the birth. She urged me to consider something similar as they had found having a doula very helpful and sent me contact information for the doula they'd used who might know others working on certification. I still put the idea off for quite a while as I just wasn't sure how necessary a doula would be, plus the idea of paying someone to come support your birth seemed a little strange to me. I wasn't sure I wanted a stranger in my hospital room.

A couple of weeks ago I finally decided that it couldn't hurt to contact the doula my friend had used. May as well see what I could find (if anything at this late time) and talk with some people and then we'd be able to make a more informed decision about the whole thing. Within a week we were meeting with a woman working toward doula certification. Ideally, we would have met with a couple more, but as I'm nearing my due date we really don't have lots of time. The first woman we met with I felt very comfortable with and, while she's only attended four births so far, she seems very knowledgeable and amenable to supporting us in whatever we decide to do - one of the births the woman decided to get an epidural, others they made it without medication, and this doula seemed pleased with both decisions. The other woman who contacted us couldn't meet until this next week and the first woman was meeting with someone else due around the same time as me this past weekend (a doula can't be on-call for two births around the same time, for obvious reasons). If we wanted to use a doula and wanted to use her, we could miss out by waiting to meet with our second contact. So we opted to make the decision whether we'd use her as a doula or not use a doula at all. In the end, I felt more comfortable knowing that we'd have someone there with us to remind us of various labor options rather than having Ryan frantically searching through the book we're reading, trying to remember all the stuff we'd read but forgotten. We looked at our budget and figured out where the money would come from and decided to go ahead with it. I'm rather excited about our decision, partly just to see how we end up feeling about the birth this time around (hopefully better than last time) and how we end up feeling about the whole doula thing afterwards. Without knowing what will happen, I feel it could definitely be worth the cost. 


Amy Rose said...

I look forward to hearing about your experience, if you liked having the doula or not. And I definitely hope that whether you particularly like the doula or not that it is still a good experience overall!

Alanna said...

I would SO love to have a doula for my next birth (especially since Craig is dead-set against a home delivery). I can't wait to hear how this one goes! (Actually, I've never heard the story of Gareth's birth. I'd love to hear that one, too, but that's just because I'm a total birth junkie. I LOVE hearing everyone's stories.)

If you feel up to doing any more reading, I absolutely LOVED The Big Book of Birth by Erica Lyon (or Lyons, now I can't remember for sure). I feel like she presents the information with a genuine open mind and just wants her readers to make the decision that is best for them. And I like her tone of voice, too! ;) She explains a lot of the biology behind birth and pretty much ALL the options you'll be given at a hospital and all the things she knows of to cope with pain and tells you the good and bad to each one. Very helpful.

Wishing you the best of luck this time!!!

Alanna said...

I just read this blog post and a couple paragraphs definitely made me think of you-- maybe you'll appreciate it, too!

Susan said...

I'm really interested to hear how it goes for you. Good luck!