The Five Reasons You Need a Doula For Your Homebirth
Several times over the past few years, I’ve been a part of a discussion concerning how doulas might (or might not) be of use to clients in a homebirth setting. Most typically, doulas are used as emotional, physical and informational support for the laboring couple while in a hospital setting. The decision to use a doula during a homebirth very much depends on the needs of the client. She may desire her midwife to be her only support, or she may enjoy the energy of more than one caregiver attending her.
Some midwives feel a doula is unnecessary during a homebirth because doulas and midwives offer care from the same pool of holistic health. Many midwives feel that they do everything a doula does, so why should a couple spend the money to hire a doula- they are already getting continious labor support? I believe this may come from a misunderstanding of the value a doula can bring to the whole birth team. I have attended clients as a doula in homebirths before and I have to say that I believe doulas are a sensible addition to then homebirth experience.
Here are five reasons, I believe doulas should be part of the homebirth team:
- History advocates for doulas: Historically, women have delivered with a *group* of skilled others present- only when a group was unavailable did women deliver alone or with a single attendant. There are plenty of practical, clinical and emotional tasks to be done during a homebirth- more than enough for the several women who would be present with the addition of a doula.
- Your Midwife is Multitasking: Even when at a birth, midwives may be on call for other clients- they may need to check their phones, make calls, organize assistants/back up, reschedule appointments, or juggle schedules. They will need to do charting, physical evaluations/monitoring, setting up and tearing down of equipment (if any) and possibly prepare herbs, medications or homeopathic remedies. When a mother is in early labor, the midwife may decide to take a couple of hours to see other clients- which skilled, experienced assistant is attending mom while the midwife handles these reasonable needs?
- Your Midwife Needs to Rest: Midwives are clinical providers having to make critical evaluations about client’s physical health. It is important for ANY midwife who may serve either the mother or the baby to be as well rested as possible. The midwife may also need to eat or use the bathroom. A doula allows for physical and emotional support while the midwife and her assistant rest as much as possible so they can think clearly during pushing, delivery and the immediate postpartum when critical thinking and observation skills need to be at their keenest.
- Your Doula Serves the Whole Family: When a mother delivers, there is a midwife for the mother, an assistant for the baby- but no one to attend to dad/partner or to the other family members during the immediate postpartum. While mom and baby are resting and the midwife and assistant are cleaning up, the doula can be assisting dad to integrate the experience, helping to dismantle the birth pool or to make breakfast or to help settle the family in.
- No One Is a Know-It-All: No one person can do it all, no one person can know everything. While midwives are amazing, it is very possible a doula may have skills, knowledge or experience that a midwife does not have. For example, a woman hoping to utilize hypnosis for pain management during labor may wish to have a doula skilled in hypnosis support with her- there is no guarantee that the midwife will have this skill set. Therefore, when planning her birth, the mother may need several kinds of professionals to serve her needs.
I really urge families considering homebirth to consider the whole picture of what they want their experience to be like. While a midwife has many if not all the skills a doula has, she is in a position to have to use other skills as well, which might distract her from the kind of constant support a doula can provide. Most people don’t regret hiring a doula- but many regret NOT hiring a doula.
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