Due to my first child’s traumatic birth 3.5 years ago, I was uneasy about the thought of going through labor again with my new baby. My husband and I decided early on to hire a doula to increase our chances of having not only a physically healthy birth, but a psychologically and emotionally healthy one as well.
A labor doula is a professional birth attendant. She is not trained in the medical management of childbirth, like a midwife or doctor, but rather focuses on physical comfort and emotional support for the mother and the partner. Using a doula can reduce the need for birth interventions, and one study showed a decreased risk of postpartum depression in women who were supported by labor doulas during birth.
I wish I had known about doulas during my first pregnancy! I was surprised at how much time my husband and I spent alone during labor in the hospital (the nurses came and checked on us occasionally). The continuous support of a doula would have been helpful for this reason, plus I knew nothing of the different positions for labor and how they affect progress. Even though I took the prenatal classes offered by the hospital, I was still quite unprepared.
I met three doulas before we decided on the one we hired. It is important to meet at least a few (some families interview more) to ensure that your personalities and birth philosophies align. The fees were definitely a consideration (they range from anywhere from free to over $1500, depending on your financial circumstances, experience of the doula, your geographic region, etc), but the most important consideration was talking to the doula we chose made me feel excited to give birth inside of anxious.
References and further reading:
PMDA Blog >