Should I Hire a Doula?

Bumps, Births and Babies

Should I hire a doula?

Well, my really quick answer is YES! And I’ll explain why.

Having given birth twice now, I honestly don’t know how the births would have panned out if I hadn’t had a doula by my side.

When I was pregnant the first time I had a friend who was a newly qualified doula so of course we were chatting quite regularly about pregnancy and birth. She opened my eyes a lot to the medical system (in Australia) – and while it’s obviously an incredible healthcare system that we are fortunate to have access to – the consistency of care for pregnant women (whether in the public or private system) still cannot be guaranteed.

We had the choice to have private health insurance, and to pay more to access private maternity care, but I felt that it wasn’t something that I really wanted for my pregnancy at the time. I had previously worked in the medical insurance field so I did have extensive knowledge in how the private and public healthcare systems were run, and combined with my intuition, I just decided that I wanted to be in the public healthcare system to have my baby.

Statistically, private and public maternity care in Australia leads to overly medicalised and medically managed pregnancies and labours – meaning inductions and c-sections are a likely outcome for the majority of women,

At that point, while I was still quite new to learning about pregnancy, I was also clear that I wanted to do things as naturally as possible – meaning that I wanted to avoid or reduce medical interventions.

So it just made sense that we would hire a doula to help us achieve that, because what a doula is there for throughout the pregnancy is consistency.

should i hire a doula?

Midwife Led Pregnancy

I was in a group midwife practice, so I was fortunate in that I had a group of midwives that I would see every few weeks and they would be the midwives helping me to deliver the baby when the time came.

I was also fortunate to have a very normal, low risk pregnancy.

Despite being in the group midwife practice, there was no way that anyone could guarantee who was going to be there at the birth of my baby because of shift changes and inherent unpredictability of birth.

As a first time mum that was a concern for me to not know who would be there with me. I built different rapport with each midwife I saw at each check up; they were all lovely but some were more old school, and some more modern. Some were really happy and supportive of our choices to use hypnobirthing techniques and others were less enthusiastic, with a rolling eyes look of ‘yeah, right, we’ve seen it all before.’ Even in the early stage of pregnancy this caused me anxiety because what if our wishes were not supported during the birth? How would that affect things?

A Doula Brings Consistency

With a doula, you’re pretty much guaranteed that they’re going to be there on the day your baby is born!

Doulas very, very rarely miss the birth of babies, because that’s their sole job, even if they have a few women birthing around the same time. (At the time of writing this post, my first doula has supported over 100 births and only missed one by about 10 minutes due to circumstances beyond her control).

But generally speaking, a doula will be there with you throughout the birth – they’re not going to be on a shift change unless it’s a really really long labour and they might want to go home for rest! This was a key factor in why we hired a doula.

should i hire a doula?

A Doula Supports Your Preferences

Another reason we hired a doula was because we were quite clear that we were going to be following hypnobirthing practices. As part of our hypnobirthing course we looked into the types of care that we were going to receive, and the consistency and the quality of that care. In fact, our hypnobirthing instructor was a former midwife herself so she had first hand insights into the pros and cons of private and public healthcare in Australia. And again the consistency of care factor was something that was brought up.

Another reason that we chose to combine hypnobirthing with having a doula was because we could go through our pregnancy with our hypnobirthing instructor and with our doula, and it was all aligned so the birth team, i.e me my husband and me, were all on the same page about what kind of birth we wanted, the logistics of where I would give birth and how and what would happen in this situation or that situation, etc.

Those are luxuries that even in a private medical system you are very often unable to access that much personal 1:1 time with your care providers. So whilst you might think that having a private obstetrician or midwife might be optimal in getting the kind of birth that you want, it’s in no way a guarantee. They have other patients, sometimes many other patients, and they also have to work within the hospital policies, and the healthcare system of that country – so your specific questions and concerns might not be able to be addressed in the same way they would when you have a doula.

So, again, the consistency factor was a major plus for us as.

Can a Doula Help You to Decide Where to Give Birth?

As our first pregnancy proceeded (and thankfully continued to be low risk and go really well), I was looking at my options for where to give birth. The options were fairly limited in the area we lived at the time (just north of Sydney, Australia).

I opted for a birth center with an obstetrician who was on call only for situations that needed to be escalated by the midwife team.

The factors enabling women to be accepted to the birth center were quite strict (because of their lack of onsite obstetrician and distance from the nearest neo-natal unit). They would only take low risk pregnancies, they wouldn’t take anybody with things like gestational diabetes or any other pregnancy risk factors.

Whilst remaining low risk is obviously out of your control sometimes, there were certain things we could do to in preparation for a low risk childbirth. Things like planning how we wanted the birth to unfold, making a birth preferences document, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle – these were all things totally within our control.

And again, our doula was a really supporting factor in the decision to choose a birth center over a traditional hospital because we knew that no matter what happened with the midwives, our doula would be there throughout the birth.

should i hire a doula?

How a Doula Helps During Childbirth

On the actual day of our first daughter’s birth, no one could have predicted the intense need for our doula (not even her!)

I talk about my birth stories in other posts, but I wanted to highlight the role of our doula in this blog because for me that was an absolute key success factor in having really positive birth experiences.

First time round, labor progressed very quickly, even as a first time mum, I was very quickly in active labor (within a couple of hours of any initial cramps). When we called the birth center, they had fairly limited staff on a Saturday afternoon, and as a first time mum they reassured me that things would take their time, and to try and rest up. They told my husband to call them back in an hour.

We also called our doula and she came to our house straight away – because she could sense in my voice, how quickly things were progressing (plus she only lived 20 minutes away). This right here is a massive differentiating factor when you hire a doula. They come to you when you want (within reason!) and because my doula knew me so well she sensed she needed to be by my side immediately. I would have paid ten times her fee for this alone!!

Within around 25 minutes of my doula’s arrival our baby girl had arrived into my arms (and my doula supported me) with no medical person present whatsoever. It just happened that fast (I go into more detail here.)

In the 45 minutes we waited for the ambulance to arrive (yes it took that long!!) it was just me, hubby and our doula – oh and our beautiful squishy (and thankfully healthy) little bundle. I cannot describe how amazing it was to have our doula there with us, and she’s a mum herself so, despite not being medically trained, she just knew what to do. She knew how to check on blood loss, she knew how to talk to the emergency services about the situation from a birthing perspective. And most importantly she stayed calm, which was exactly what we needed. She also followed our ambulance to the hospital and gave a really good handover for the midwife who received us.

I am beyond grateful that I had her with us, because our baby may have been born in the car on the way to the birthing center or she may have been born at the side of the road or she may have been born at home with just me and my husband – all of which would have been fine and we would have coped of course, but it was just great to have her support in what was an intense but incredible experience.

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Should I Hire a Doula if I’m Planning a Hospital Birth? Do You Need a Doula for Second / Subsequent Births?

Second pregnancy and we lived in the Middle East (UAE) where homebirth is not allowed. Had I stayed in Australia having had my first experience of an unplanned home birth, I would have planned a home birth second time around because it was so beautiful.

But this was just not an option in the UAE so I was on the hunt again for the best place to give birth. My first stop? Hire a doula!

I found someone who came highly recommended – she was a UK trained midwife but working as a doula at the time (very common for midwives who move around and need to do continuing education or who don’t want to commit to hospital shift work etc.)

She recommended a wonderful obstetrician who worked at the hospital nearby our house (because chances were I was gonna have another quick birth!) My obstetrician fully supported hypnobirthing, and knew our doula and was really open to everything we wanted to discuss. She was totally on-board to be a hand-off doctor, which is exactly what I wanted.

She was there for me when I needed but she completely trusted me and my husband to know what we wanted; we had done this before, and we went to every appointment prepared with questions and things that we wanted to discuss. Because she knew that we were in charge of this she knew that she didn’t really have to do so much. It was a win-win all round.

Once again our doula supported us through the birth preparation and everything just like the first time and answered so many of our questions. Despite this not being my first birth, I hadn’t (yet) given birth in a medical facility so I was quite apprehensive about it in many ways!

hypnobirthing hospital birth story

With a Doula by My Side Again

As my second pregnancy progressed, my obstetrician kept reminding me I must call her at the first sign of any twinge – she knew my second labour would probably be super quick too. And she lived a 25 minute drive away.

I called her, as soon as I was having twinges in the night (5 days past my due date). The hospital was at the end of our street (so we had a very good chance of making it to the hospital this time!)

I also called my doula who met us first at the hospital. Despite doing a tour, the hospital staff was unknown to us because it was that big we had no way of knowing who would be there on the day (another factor in having a doula!)

Once in the birthing suite my husband started to prepare it in the hypnobirthing way with electric candles, music, clary sage etc. The midwife came in to introduce herself and, thinking that this was going to be the long haul (because I was still talking fine and walking around), she went off to get us some bottles of water and said she would be back soon to look over our birth plan.

As soon as she left the room, I had this urge to push (any mum will know what I’m talking about) – just like that! I raced to the bathroom and the baby’s head was there! The doula walked in, saw what was happening screamed into the corridor for the midwife to come back in just as I birthed our second baby girl – in the bathroom (again) with no medical staff at all (again), despite being in the hospital this time!

The poor midwife was absolutely shocked, more shocked than I was I think – she’d only just met us five minutes before and suddenly there’s a baby.

The doctor also arrived at that point, while everyone was just still in bathroom, checking what gender the baby was!

Had I not had a doula the second time, chances are, again, I would have been fine (I was in a hospital with a midwife just outside), but having a doula there meant that she knew me, she knew my case, she knew my history and she knew my desires.

And as soon as my baby came out, she was there to manage everything based on our birth preferences (reminded the doctor I wanted a natural birth of the placenta, I wanted skin-to-skin for at least the first hour, no injections for the baby etc etc.)

She managed all that, which just made it so much easier on me and my husband so we could just enjoy this special time with our second baby girl.

hypnobirthing hospital birth story

Should I Hire a Doula?

The role of a doula in my eyes is so vast and so individual. And so different for every woman, every family and couple. But for me, the consistency part and the managing of expectations and preferences on your behalf, were two of the major factors as to why we chose to hire a doula both times.

To any other expectant mums out there, I’d highly recommend that you look into it hiring a doula. Speak to other mums who have had doulas, speak with experienced doulas in your area and ask them about any fears or questions you have. Talk to them about your birth preferences and seek their support and insights. And please make sure they are also accredited (if your country has accreditation) and speak with former clients of theirs.

Best of luck mama, you got this!


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Hey there!

I'm Claire, it's SO lovely to have you here!

I help conscious parents understand and integrate their family's unique Human Design into everyday life.

Parenting by design has helped me to see my beautiful kiddos on an entirely new level. I can't wait to help you start to parent with soul too!

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