It’s Lauren’s Favorite [Birth] Things!
My absolute favorite birth things are a loving, confident partner and a loving, respectful, and skilled provider. My hope is that you have or manage to find both. Lauren’s Favorite Birth Things necessarily focuses on birth things anyone can get–at least in some form. In the spirit of Oprah’s favorite things, these are the best uses of your hard-earned cash money to make birth easier and more pleasurable.
A Doula You Connect With
A good birth class is all but essential for your mindset, your partner’s confidence, and your own feelings of comfort during labor. But when it’s really heating up, or you run into something unexpected, a doula can keep you both calm, remind you of what you learned, and offer guidance. Especially if you’re birthing in hospital, a doula is indispensable because she stays with you. That continuity of care (in any birth place), someone there Just For You, makes the difference.
Benefits of a Doula
- Doulas are professionals in the field of “Holding Space.” They offer unfailing support and trust in YOU (and help your partner do the same).
- Doulas remind you of what you already know in the heat of labor.
- Doulas are ‘on call’ for you, and answer your questions and concerns via text or phone call throughout your pregnancy.
- Doulas offer physical, emotional, and relational support during labor.
- Doulas check up on you postpartum.
- You hire the doula and her primary goal is your comfort and power. She has no conflict of interest and is not responsible for your medical care at all so she can focus on you.
- Partners are more, not less, involved when there is a doula!
- When you have a doula, you’re scientifically less likely to need Pitocin, a cesarean, an epidural, and other interventions.
- People who have a doula at their birth are 2x more likely to be satisfied with their birth experience, no matter what happens.
- Babies of doula-attended births have higher APGAR scores and are less likely to need the NICU.
- How you feel when you give birth matters. For you, the baby, and the labor.
- Birth is a big deal. There is no bigger deal. You deserve it.
Find a Good Doula
- Ask people who have had the kind of birth you want to have if they had a doula. Ask for recommendations on facebook/other groups.
- Google ‘doula near me’ or ‘your city doula.’
- Check doulamatch.net (like a dating service for doulas).
- Remember that the most expensive or most experienced doula may not be the best for you. What matters most is that you feel very comfortable with them–like an old friend, a sister, or your dear aunt.
- Doulas do generally have training, but this doesn’t matter as much as how they make you feel and their general knowledge of birth. Having attended at least 10 births is nice, but not necessary.
- Has she attended a birth at your birth place before?
- Ask questions in the interview! Interview more than one!
A Low-Cost Doula
Doulas are ‘expensive,’ it’s true. It’s a lot of money, but not for what you get. Most of them have one price, no matter if your labor is 4 hours or 40. They are on call for you, likely have to wake in the middle of the night, and they stay with you. It’s honestly an exhausting job. Beautiful, wonderful, worthy. But exhausting. They are worth the price.
It’s a very good use of your money. However, not everyone has the money, even if it is a great deal. If you find yourself having to choose between rent and doula, there are still some options.
- Ask around about local free doula/ labor companion programs. Johns Hopkins has a program here in Maryland that provides free nursing student labor companions to anyone who requests it (as long as someone is available). It’s not a doula, but you get many of the same benefits.
- Some doulas offer payment plans, sliding scales, bartering, and discounts.
- If you’re comfortable, start a go-fund-me or ask for doula money for baby shower gifts.
- Find a friend or friend of a friend who is interested in birth, has given birth, and would be willing to learn about doula-ing and attend your birth. This is tricky, because they may not know much and may be uncomfortable. So make sure to talk thoroughly beforehand. You should still at least give her fancy chocolate and a nice note.
- Ask a family member, such as your sister or mom. This is very tricky because your family members, even if they know birth well, are emotionally entrenched in your story. They can’t separate themselves from you and so the support they offer is conditional on everything going pretty smoothly and within their comfort zone. Their emotional responses to your labor may muddle your own. This is why, although having your partner there is awesome and important, it’s nice to have someone who is not so heavily emotionally involved.