intensely trivial

Considering NOT having a doula at your baby’s birth

In the previous post, I listed things you should consider in deciding to engage a doula for your baby’s birth. Obviously, I think most women would benefit from a doula’s presence and services, no matter what their goals are for birth. And now, because I want to tell the truth, I want to examine some factors on the other side of the chart. What are good reasons for not asking a doula to attend your birth, and what might be some bad reasons not to have a doula there?


1. You’re a very independent or very private person. Birth is a normal, nonpathological event, and in most cases women can give birth without extra helpers. It can also be hard to relax in front of someone else, and performance anxiety is counterproductive to normal birth. When I was pregnant with my children, I worried about that very thing, being quite an independent person myself. So I try to respect my clients’ personal space. As you interview doulas or consider whether to ask one to your birth, you would certainly want to ask yourself: “Can I truly be myself with this particular person in the room?” If you are a very private or independent person, honestly, you might think about giving birth at home. Entering the hospital doors automatically strips you of much of your autonomy and puts you on a stage of sorts. That’s the truth.
2. Incompatibility between your personality and the doula’s. This is why I try to meet in person with every client before she decides to hire me. We all know very quickly whether we click or not. You might also want to ask how she handles interactions with care providers. If your doula ends up getting herself kicked out of the hospital in the middle of your birth, of course that wouldn’t help your labor. Fortunately, that’s an extreme most of us doulas and our clients never experience.

Are there ever times when a woman talks herself out of a doula, but shouldn’t? I’m so glad you asked! Yes, there are. . .


1. Cost. I don’t know a single doula who would turn you down for financial reasons. Ask your potential doula if there are other ways to compensate her. Just ask. On the other hand, we do like to know we’re appreciated, since it does cost us something to provide this service. But please, for goodness’ sake, don’t let cost keep you from hiring a doula!
2. “I want pain meds, so I don’t need a doula.” A) You will probably have to labor a while before getting an epidural. B) Epidurals certainly don’t take away all discomfort, and they often don’t take away all pain. C) A doula can meet other needs besides pain relief, such as making sure you are cool enough, assisting you to change positions so baby doesn’t get stuck in a position leading to “cephalopelvic disproportion” or “failure to progress” (diagnoses resulting in c-section). D) Your doula can also continue to validate the fact that you are this very moment becoming a mother, whether you can feel the physical sensations or not.
3. Preconceptions/stereotypes about doulas. For example, many doulas are not vegan hippies. Most doulas do know how to get along with the mainstream people who hire them, and the mainstream medical staff we encounter at our clients’ births. And even though I have a large dose of hippie in me, I very rarely get out the “woo” tricks from my bag (like aromatherapy, which I have used maybe twice in my doula career). I don’t even wear my Birkenstocks to births!! 😉
4. “I’m high-risk, and I’ll probably end up with tons of medical interventions, so a doula won’t do me any good.” All the more reason to have a doula there! A doula can help you remember that you’re not simply a mass of wires and monitors; that you are, in fact, a mother, and that you are about to hold your baby. In the case of a cesarean, a doula can encourage you to be strong and bond with your baby, help you feed him with your body’s miraculous milk, and remind you that, even if you have had multiple interventions, at the core you CAN be the mother your baby needs.


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