3 Reasons I Chose to Hire a Doula for my 3rd Pregnancy

doula and a pregnant woman using a inflatable ball with purple ink elements and "Three Reasons I Chose to Hire a Doula for my 3rd Pregnancy" in text and MMC logo

Kalie wrote this before delivering her sweet baby – we wish her and her family many congratulations on their newest addition!

Since we don’t see each other on a daily basis, I thought I should start of by saying: I’m pregnant. For the 3rd time. And by pregnant I mean end of the line, kind of in the home stretch pregnant.

This is also my 3rd high risk pregnancy. I’ll spare you the details of the high-risk part. But I will say this: it definitely complicates things. Being high risk means I get so many extra ultrasounds (fun!) but also medications, monitoring, and more appointments (not fun).

I am so grateful for a fantastic medical team and technology to monitor both me and this sweet (please let her be sweet) little girl. But I also feel caught between the experiences of past pregnancies/birth and the hopes of what they could have been.

So, we hired a doula, something I never thought I would say. And in case you’re on the fence, here’s 3 reasons I chose to hire a doula this time around.

Before we get into my actual reasons, I need you to know something: I am not a very crunchy person. I use Clorox wipes like my life depends on it. I feed my kids pre-packaged snacks. I don’t buy very many organic veggies. I am just kind of your average, in the middle, “let’s be healthy but also let’s use Ziplock bags because it’s easier” kind of mom. And all of these reasons have always made me feel like I would have to disqualify a doula from coming alongside us in pregnancy, birth, and/or postpartum, mostly because I was being super judgmental.

I didn’t know that a doula could be the most unjudgmental, kindhearted, and supportive person I never knew I needed to meet.

I didn’t know that I could have such a deep affinity and trust in medicine and bleach and also find a doula whose main goals were supporting mine during birth.

ALL THAT TO SAY: Don’t count a doula out just because you don’t think you fit the “doula girl mold.” There is no mold. Every doula is different. You can interview until you find the right fit. And don’t be like me and assume you know what a doula will be like before ever getting to know them!

doula and a pregnant woman wearing masksGiving Birth is Hard

Guys. Remember those high-risk pregnancies I’ve told you about? Well, they came with really rough inductions and a whole crap-ton of complications. But even without high-risk factors, giving birth is hard. And because it’s hard, we should’t have to do it on our own.

I’ve had friends who have had doulas put their hair up during birth; if you’ve ever had your husband put your hair in a ponytail during labor, you know what an actual skill this is. I’ve heard of doulas coming over and doing birth classes in homes. I’ve heard of husbands providing counter pressure and feeling so confident while supporting their wives giving birth that gone were the anecdotes of the bumbling fella passing out beside the bed. All because the doula took special care and time to teach and prepare him well.

My husband was awesome during my first two births. But the first thing he said after our first class with our doula was, “Man. I wish I had known a bunch of that before.” Two times, friends. He has supported me TWO TIMES during birth. Shouldn’t we be old pros? But here he was, glad to have spent time learning how to support me without me having to ask, and he was pumped about it.

Doulas take the guesswork out of labor. They provide education, support, and tangible ways to prepare for all different types of birth. I am confident now, with our 3rd birth, that even though it’s going to be hard, there’s nothing to fear this time.

We Need Advocates…and Options

I think it’s important to iterate here that I think doctors and nurses are great. For my second birth, I had the worlds best OBGYN and L&D nurses; so good that I cried at my last postpartum appointment with my doctor, and I gave all the nurses personalized gifts. The reason I share this is so that you know that choosing a doula is not a slight or a fight against the “medical establishment.”

But I do think that some of the complications in my past births could stem from a lack of options that were offered to me. And even if they didn’t, I would have like to be on the decision making team regardless.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re a military mom (or you know one). And chances are, you probably know that we aren’t given a lot of options when it comes to our healthcare and especially giving birth. We don’t get to choose the hospital. We often don’t get a say in the provider. And we definitely don’t always know what it looks like to ask for more options or more information.

In my first birth, my water was broken without my consent. I was administered medications with no explanation and was never asked for consent. I gave birth to a non-responsive baby who was resuscitated and taken to the nearest NICU (which was 2.5 hours away because of where we were stationed at the time). My husband had to go with the baby, so I was left alone, on medications that made me forget giving birth, and was never given an explanation for anything that had happened.

When I had friends who had doulas tell me that they advocated for them, asking questions and if there were other options, I was intrigued. “You’re telling me you didn’t have to know all the right questions to ask because someone was there to ask them with you? You didn’t have to remember how to ask while you were smack dab in the middle of actual physical trauma??!? Tell me more.”

We need advocates, friends. We need someone to see through the hardness of labor and ask questions, to remind us of our goals and desires for our bodies.

I made sure that our doula knows that we love doctors and will take whatever advice they give us. But she’s also promised to raise questions where they need to be asked and ask for clarifications on things that may seem muddled. Who wouldn’t want someone like that with them during labor?

pregnant woman speaking with another womanIt’s Never Too Late

With our first, an emergency pre-term induction, we didn’t have time to go to the birth education classes. We were thrown into the thick of it with no understanding or knowledge of what to expect (which maybe was a good thing since everything went so crazy in the end). So when we had our second I thought “Well, we’ve done it once. We can do it again.” And even though I knew a little more and I loved my doctor, I still didn’t feel in control of the choices that were being made for my body. And that made me realize: maybe we could use some help here.

A lot of people have expressed surprise that we hired a doula for my 3rd pregnancy. They kind of cock their heads and raise their eyebrows wondering why. But when I tell them our story, in as little graphic detail as possible, they seem to understand more.

But I want to tell you: we are walking into this birth for the first time without fear.

We don’t fear the medical induction (if it comes to that) or the complications that are highly likely in our birth stories. We feel confident knowing that we have someone on our side, someone who wants the same things we want, and who will ask good questions in order to put us in control of the decisions being made.

I don’t want to tell you that we believe that having a doula is going to change everything in birth. That would be a lie. We know that birth is almost entirely out of our hands. How our baby responds to birth not within our bounds of control. What my bodies does or does not do during labor is also not in my control. But why not have someone there with us who will lovingly support us through each step, come what may?

I say that if you can, hire the doula, ladies. The peace you’ll have going in is unparalleled.