Birth is the most simple and, yet, complicated ordeal a woman can endure. Egg is inseminated with sperm, baby grows, and the kid comes out. Easy, right?
There is so much that goes on with being pregnant. Leaving what happens to our bodies during pregnancy aside, all the choices, baby crap to buy, and medical jargon make it tough enough on people who really have no idea what to expect. So, even with all that aside, let’s just talk about getting the kid out. Yikes!
Should I get induced?
There really is such thing as a designer baby?
What’s an epidural?
My cervix is gonna get HOW big?
These are questions, among other thousands of questions, that all need to be answered relatively quickly. So we uneducated few need guidance. Ideally, mothers will have either a doctor or a certified nurse midwife attending their birth. Both are medically trained and certified.
I am choosing to have a doctor at my birth. Over the course of my pregnancy, like most women, I had a monthly appointment, then it was twice a month, and now it’s weekly appointments with her.
She has kept her eye on my weight, blood pressure, overall health, and the health of my tiny baby. Best of all, she has given me great advice both medically and personally. My doctor answered every question I had and gave me every confidence in my choices for my birth plan. In addition to choosing either a doctor or a midwife, parents can look into hiring a doula.
When people ask me what a doula is, I tell them that they are a “bonus pack.”
They’re kind of like that extra city you can download to play in Sim City. They aren’t the full game, but they make the actual game that much cooler. Let me explain.
There are two types of doulas, a birth doula and a postpardum doula. Some doulas are certified, and others are not, and either way – they would not take the place of your primary pregnancy caregiver. Unlike your caregiver, doulas are rarely, if ever, covered by your insurance (mine wouldn’t cover one).
Birth doulas generally meet with you and your partner twice before your due date, spend your labor and entire birth with you, and then visit once after the baby is born. They are available through phone or email for questions before you give birth, and are always willing to give advice if needed.
The average cost for a doula in the state of Rhode Island is $800.00 – $1,000.00.
Most have a doula partner or partners who would serve as their backup if they were unable to attend your birth. Some birth doulas even work in tandem with their partners, and have twelve hour shifts.
A birth doula would get to know how you and your partner envision the birth of your tiny baby. Your hopes, your fears, your preferences on music or lighting, and any other topics that would be discussed in your birth plan or birth guide.
Me? I care about someone helping me sneak in snacks for labor, getting me in an out of a shower or tub, and letting my husband know he might be better off watching a movie on the iPad for an hour or so.
In addition to just being plain old awesome, they can help inform you of possible decisions. They will also remind caregivers and nurses about your birth goals.
For example, would you like to have a choice about your membranes being broken? Well, sometimes. But how do you know?
A doula could not only explain what this means to you, but will also help make sure your practitioner doesn’t do anything without your consent. She may also help by massaging you during labor, reminding you to drink, or helping your partner understand that the crazy goat-like sounds you are making are perfectly normal.
A birth doula is with you the entire time during your labor, whereas doctors and midwives generally aren’t. A doctor will check up on you a few times to see your progress, and then at the end for the final push. Aside from that, you are tended to by labor nurses.
From what I’ve heard, most nurses are amazing and lovely. Honestly, nurses have my utmost respect because they are they people who have to satisfy everyone: the doctor, the patient, and inexorably, the hospital.
The problem is that, in most cases, you don’t meet them until that day. If you chose to have a doula, you would have already established a relationship with her. Also, you are the one and only person she attends to, whereas nurses have other patients.
After your tiny baby arrives, a birth doula will stay for an hour or so to make sure mom and baby are happy and comfortable. They may help take photos of you and your new tiny family, or even help give breastfeeding tips.
Some people choose to have their mother, a sister, or a friend join them in the birthing process. Others want this special event soli for the parents of the tiny baby. And others, choose to have an experienced doula join them during birth.
My hubby and I learned about birth doulas at a DoRI, Doulas of Rhode Island, meet and greet. They generally host one of these free events once a month. There, parents are invited to watch an informative video, ask questions, and then meet several doulas.
For a list of Rhode Island based birth doulas, click this link. There you will find bios, as well as pictures and contact information for the women. If you’re thinking about hiring a doula, interview a few. Make sure you and your partner are comfortable with them, and that they fully understand and support your birth goals.
UPDATE 2/15/16: I hired Kim McNiece, from Blessed Beginnings RI for both of my births. She was gentle, kind, and helped me through a 25 hour labor with my first baby, and a super quick crazy one hour birth with my second baby.