The Importance of Doulas

Throughout our labor and post-partum experience, we’ve been lucky to enlist the help of two magical women who helped me in ways that I never knew were possible. I honestly don’t know how I would have survived labor or the first two nights at home without them. These women were both doulas, serving different roles but with one unified goal: to make my life calmer and easier so that I could be a calmer and happier mama to Amalia.

I get a lot of questions from many of you (as well as from family and friends) about why I chose to use doulas, so I thought I’d talk about it a little more today. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture with either of them!

I’d also love to know about your experience with doulas. Did you use one? Did you love her?

Birth Doula:

I always knew that I wanted a doula at the birth of my babies. The idea of someone giving me extra support, whose only focus was to help me be comfortable during labor, sounded almost too good to be true. After looking into it, the service was more affordable than I had expected, so it was a no brainer. My friend Eva recommended CT Birth Partners, so I called them up at the end of my first trimester.

The woman who runs the company got to know me on the phone and then paired me with the doula that she thought would fit my needs and personality best. She teamed us up with Dawn, an amazing doula, mother, and woman, who has been at over 500 births over the years! Needless to say, I knew I was in good hands right away.

We had a few calls with her on the phone and that was the first time in my life that I realized labor didn’t have to be a scary thing. She made me feel so safe and supported without even having met in person yet. A few weeks later, she came over to talk to us about our goals for birth and to get to know me and Anel. She had the most calming energy, and I knew we had made the right choice.

Over the next few months of my pregnancy, she would call or text me after all of my doctor appointments to check in on my progress, and constantly reminded me to hydrate and rest. We didn’t talk at length very often, but I knew she was always thinking of me.

Where she was really clutch, however, was the night of Amalia’s birth. From the moment she met us at the hospital, I felt at peace. During each contraction (pre-epidural), she would tell me to breathe deep into my uterus, and held my hands while Anel would rub my back.

After I got my epidural, she made me a cold wash cloth with lavender oil for my forehead and encouraged me to drink water and rest up as much as possible.

When it came time to push, she coached me through each one, rubbing my head and hands as it progressed. At that point, she made me another forehead washcloth with peppermint oil to energize me. These little details may seem silly, but in the moment even the tiniest of gestures went a long way.

She was such an amazing support system during what could have been a really scary time, and I’m so grateful that she was there. She also encapsulated my placenta in the days following, but that’s another story that I’m a little afraid to talk too much about. Maybe next time!

Post-Partum Doula:

I had never heard of post-partum doulas until a friend told me about them. Their job is to help new mamas in whatever way possible after birth. Anel and I talked about it while I was still pregnant, and we quickly came to the conclusion that we could use some help at night, the scariest time with an infant.

Baby nurses are pricey, but doulas are much more affordable! What’s the difference? A doula’s job is to “mother the mother” and basically make sure that she’s ok and feels supported. We found Natalie, our post-partum doula, via MothersCare Doula Services, and she did exactly that.

She would change Amalia’s diaper, and bring her to me to feed for those first few nights. She also made sure I was drinking enough water, and would answer any questions I had while I nursed. It was nice that Anel got a few nights of sleep at the beginning so he could be “on” during the day while I was brain dead and exhausted.

She also taught me some tricks for nursing, burping the baby, and soothing techniques. On top of that, she’d help clean up and make me “mother’s milk” tea to help my milk supply. I’ll forever be so grateful to Natalie who had the most beautiful energy, and kept me sane during our first few, terrifying nights home from the hospital.

A baby nurse is usually much more expensive, and focuses more on the baby as opposed to the mother. She might be highly trained in sleep training, feeding, etc. We ended up hiring one to help us with sleep training, but I’ll talk about that in another post soon!

I’d love to know about your experience with doulas. Did you use one? Did you love her?

  • Melissa Joynson

    We used a doula for the birth of our daughter last November, and I can honestly say that was one of the best decisions we made in the pregnancy. Prior to getting pregnant, I did not know what a doula was; however, we ended up taking a low-intervention, partner-supported birth class from our doula (seriously, she is amazing–doula, lactation consultant, birth educator). We immediately fell in love with her and knew we wanted to hire her. I felt like I was in such capable hands throughout the end of my pregnancy, labor, and delivery. She believed in me and my desire to have a low-intervention birth, and I truly think that having someone outside of my husband and me who knew our desires and supported us 100% is ultimately what helped me to believe in myself and my ability as a mother.

    • Yes! So so happy to hear that. I love stories like this. Thank you for sharing!

  • Taylor Cannon

    Using a doula is definitely something I am consider once we start trying. It sounds like an amazing option. One thing I have wanted to ask (a little off topic) are you planning to use cloth diapers with Amalia? I’m just curious as it is something we have considered for the future kids. Just wanted some insight if you do. 🙂
    Taylor | http://www.livingtaylored.com

    • Hi Taylor! Having a doula was definitely an amazing decision for us and I highly recommend it. We talked about cloth diapers but ultimately decided against them because we felt as if we’d be overwhelmed enough already and cloth diapers would add another layer of stress. I think it’s incredible when people use them though!

  • Ellen

    I’m 16 weeks and definitely considering a postpartum doula. You mentioned the process you followed for finding a birth doula, but I’m curious to know if you met with/”interviewed” multiple postpartum doulas as well and if so, what were some of the traits or skills you looked for? I love reading these posts – can’t wait to hear more about Amalia’s sleep routine (maybe routine is a loaded word…ha!) and what products you ended up liking the most. Keep up the great work, and thank you for being an inspiration to all of us!

    • Oh good point! I didn’t mention that but yes, it was the same process. Natalie and I had a call and we clicked right away. She was the first one we interviewed so I think we got lucky!

  • Emily

    “but I knew she was always thinking of me” Seriously? Yes, I am sure you were the only thing on her mind. I used to like reading your blog but you come off so self-absorbed so i’m done. Congrats on the baby!

    • Hi Emily! I’m so sorry you feel that way. I certainly didn’t mean to come off as self-absorbed, just trying to share my story in hopes that it helps other women with their own experiences.

    • She just had a baby; step off with the mean comments.

    • BSM

      Emily, you’re right! Julia is such a monster for talking about how well-taken care of she felt by someone she hired to do just that. /s

      A+ job creating a Disqus account just to post a mean comment.

  • So happy to hear you had a great experience as well! I totally agree that those small details made all the difference. It sounds so silly in writing but in the moment, you know what I’m talkinga bout!

  • Thank you for sharing! And I’m super impressed you’re replying to comments (even the not-so-nice ones) already!

  • dcl

    Wait, are you sleep training Amalia already?? Can you share more about that? My son is 8 months and we are just starting that process, I guess we may be behind the curve… But he is, and has been, so hungry in the night that sleep training didn’t seem feasible. We’re working on night weaning first – down to just one nursing session.

  • hithaonthego

    I wish I knew what a doula actually did when I had Rho. All I can remember from my labor is looking at Sri, sleeping in the chair next to me, while I powered through contractions and watched TV and imagining all the ways I could torture him.

    I’m definitely hiring a doula next time.

  • Katrin B

    Great that you have found such a nice doula! I live in Germany and we are somewhat lucky because every new mother can have a midwife who comes for up to 8 weeks to check on you and the baby (helping with nursing, checking your body and possible injuries, bathing the baby etc.. ). I loved mine, she was so calm and helped a lot. She was actually also present at our daughter’s birth – a coincidene -she works in the hospital where i gave birth but we had no idea if she was working that day. I have no experiences with sleep training however, that is something that most parents here just don’t do, so i can’t really comment on that. But it is always so great to read stories like yours because on the one hand, so many things sound familiar (especially your birth story) and other aspects differ so much between countries and families. For me it is just nice to see how every new family finds their own way. I am sorry that some people post such negative comments… All the best to you!!