So you're envisioning your perfect birth and you've decided a home birth is right for you. You've found a midwife, you're gathering birth supplies, you're designing a beautiful birth space, you're researching pregnancy, learning all about birthing, and then you wonder..... Should I be hiring a doula?This is such a common question.
"Do I really need a doula for a home birth? I won't be in the hospital and I'll have a midwife. Why should I hire a doula?" It's a pretty good question in my opinion. Many times doulas are encouraged for hospital births because studies show that births with doulas are less likely to end in Cesarean... Or because the nursing and medical staff do not have time to tend to your every need so one-on-one support is beneficial. But if you're at home your risk for cesarean is already drastically reduced, and your midwife is going to be all eyes and ears on you... there's no one birthing in the next room over. Right? True. That's all true. So why then, do so many women hire doulas for home birth? Well there are a few good reasons why a doula is important to all birthing women. 1. Education, Preparation, Pregnancy Support
A doula isn't just for attending your birth... A doula typically provides emotional support during your pregnancy, helps you learn about your many options regarding pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care decisions. Many doulas also provide childbirth preparation education in one form or another. Having a doula means having someone who helps you process pregnancy, prepare for birth, and then process birth. Having someone who is on the same page as you, supporting your choices, simply holding space for you as you birth can be a powerful asset.
2. Likely to arrive before midwife
Depending on your midwife's typical practice style, she may not arrive to your home in early labor. She could also be attending another birth while you're in the early stages of labor, and unable to come right away. Doulas, however, typically arrive as soon as you feel you need support, whether that's as early labor progresses or after you've undoubtedly entered active labor. Although home birth midwives provide exceptional, and very personalized care, having a support person who understands what you're experiencing can be helpful for the soul as labor progresses.
Your midwife is there to provide clinical style care. Though midwives are amazing at providing emotional and physical support, there may be times they are preoccupied with assessing situations, listening to heartbeats, etc. If at any time you feel concerned about what is happening during your birth process, it can be reassuring to have a knowledgable doula remind you what is normal, remind you that the midwife is just doing her job and it doesn't always mean something is wrong, or whatever else you need reassured about. Maybe it's just having someone remind you that you have prepared for this baby, you are equipped to birth your baby, and you can do this.
4. Support for partner
Every partner is unique. Some may be cool as a cucumber, others may be frantic and concerned. Then you might have the partner who wants to help but doesn't know how, or the one who doesn't realize what kind of support is actually needed during labor. A doula can help educate the father and put his mind at ease, as well as suggest ways that he can support the mother. Showing physical support techniques, suggestions of intimacy, and supporting his confidence are all important ways to support the mother. I know in my own personal experience, I was very concerned that I would have to explain things to my husband and direct him while I was laboring. Having a doula provided someone to do this for me. It also allowed my husband to take a break if he needed to without worrying that I was alone and feeling abandoned.
5. Transfer Support
Unfortunately birth is unpredictable. Home birth transfers happen. Sometimes mom decides she wants pain relief she can't get at home. Sometimes the midwife picks up on something concerning that the hospital is better equipped to handle. Sometimes a cesarean might be necessary. Transferring from a home birth to a hospital birth is scary for most who experience it for many reasons. Having continuous support from your doula is going to be so important. Your midwife will likely be busy interacting with the medical staff to ensure quality turn over. You and your spouse are likely feeling afraid in this situation, and maybe even a sense of loss. Your doula can be a calming presence to encourage you to continue practicing autonomy, trusting in yourself, and just being there for you while you process the chain of events. Especially if the transfer is for non-emergent reasons, your doula becomes important for all the same reasons a doula is important in a planned hospital birth.
6. Postpartum Support
After baby is born, your midwife may be focused on tending to baby's needs and you may feel like everyone has forgotten about you. Your doula can focus on you and make sure that you have anything you need or want. While the environment is typically much more relaxed and comfortable and less chaotic than a hospital birth, everyone still deserves to have someone's undivided attention if and when they need it. Furthermore, your doula can prep you and your partner a meal while the midwife handles the postpartum care. How perfect would it be to be doting on your new baby and be served up a nice cup of tea and yummy treat without even having to ask? Many doulas also provide postpartum support. Wouldn't it be nice to have the same postpartum doula as you had during your birth? Having someone who knows you and was there during your birth can help you process your experience in the following days and weeks. At the end of the day, women generally benefit from traditional woman-to-woman support during labor. While midwives are fabulous, having a doula to provide additional support is almost never a bad idea. Are doulas for everyone? No. Maybe not. But is there a place for a doula at your home birth? Absolutely.
Are you looking for a doula to attend your home birth in New Jersey? Jaimie serves home birth families in Burlington County, Mercer County, Ocean County, and Camden County up to approximately 1 hour away from her home in Pemberton. If you would like to have Jaimie support your birth and you are outside of the service area, reach out anyway! Jaimie will try to find a way to make it work! Jaimie also provides breastfeeding education prenatally, postpartum breastfeeding support, and postpartum doula care. All clients are encouraged to ask about photography add ons for Doula packages. Maternity Photos, Birth Photography, and Newborn Photos are all available in addition to Doula Support.
Feel free to share this article with your home birthing friends who are debating whether or not they should meet with doulas for their home birth!