I would love to convince you that especially if you are giving birth to your first baby, you cannot afford to not have a doula. Yes, even with a doula, you may not have the birth of your dreams, but studies have proven that not only can having a trained doula at your birth help you have a more positive experience, but it also can increase your chances of having a natural birth. (Doula statistics - http://www.beginswithbirth.net/statistics.shtml) Reasons people don’t want a doula or think they do not want a doula: 1) “My husband would feel replaced. I want him to be a big part of my birth experience and I am afraid if I had someone else there, he would just feel like I didn’t want him.” Answer: This is a common concern. However, men are not made to be caregivers, they strive to be, but need a little help often. There are some husbands that are the world’s best coaches. Often though, they got that way because they had some guidance along the way. A good doula is there for the husband as much as for the mother. She can guide the father through what to do to feel a part of the childbirth experience. Not only will he feel empowered at the end of the experience, his wife will also feel supported by him. In doula supported births it is not as common to see the cliché anger towards the spouse that you see in the movies. 2)“I would love a doula, but I can’t afford it.” Answer: This is a very common concern and it can be a valid one. But most of the time, there are ways around this. Do you really want a doula? Have you approached local doulas and offered alternative methods of payment? Most doulas offer discounted rates for financial difficulty, trades for payment or payment plans. The going rate for a doula widely varies across the nation, but in our area it is under $500. If you truly want a doula, need a doula; almost always there are ways to get one. A couple of things to try:
A) Call doula organizations. Ask them for names of doulas in training and ask them if they would serve for a reduced fee. Don’t take the first one you call, interview your doulas and see if they are a good fit for you. DONA- http://www.dona.org/ ALACE- http://www.alace.org/ If they are young and have not had any birth experience, this is their first birth; this may not be a good fit for you. But there are many doulas in training that have a vast range of birth experience and are willing to do the work for you at a reduced rate. I don’t recommend not paying your doula at all. I find that often results in subpar care and you don’t get the full benefit of having a doula. You pay for what you get, basically.
B) Call local homebirth midwives and see if they have any apprentices or midwives in training that would be willing to act as a doula for the training experience and observation of a birth.
C) Check local support groups to see if there are women that are experienced in birth, but not certified as a doula. Interview them on their experience as well. The basic answer to the “I can’t afford a doula!” that I would love to give, is that you cannot afford to not have a doula, especially if you are planning a hospital birth with your first baby, unless…you are not planning on breastfeeding, you could care less about a natural delivery and post-partum depression isn’t something you are concerned about.
3) “I would like to have pain relief during labor. Why would I want a doula?”
Answer: Pain relief is a common choice for women now. It is more common to have pain relief in labor than it is to go completely natural. Yes, a doula can help educate you on the different methods of pain relief. This can help you decide what method you find is safest for you and your baby. Since pain relief that are most commonly used raise the risk of surgical intervention, she can also be supportive to help you avoid that intervention, by helping you through the labor pains for as long as possible before getting pain relief. She can utilize methods such as position changes, even with pain relief to help for optimal fetal positioning in labor, which can help with the descent of the baby. If you desire it, she can help you with pushing in a way to avoid tearing, which is more common with pain relief as well.
I hope this has been informative! Doulas are out there to support women, men, families through the pregnancy, labor and post-partum experience. They train to be able to help you in the personal way you need and desire to get through it. They can personalize their care to you, and will generally set aside their own ideals to make it the best experience possible for you. In light of all they can do for you, I would say that you cannot afford to go without a doula when giving birth.