Show of hands: who thinks they know what a doula is? If your answer involves pianos, banjos, or 18th century pistol pointers, put your hand down and pay attention.
Who Is Your Doula?
Doulas are trained childbirth experts who provide consultation and support before, during, and after delivery of your kid. They differ from midwives in that they can’t replace your OB for pre-natal healthcare. Think of them like your pregnancy offensive coordinator; they work to support the health of your wife and child by providing techniques, tactics, training, and direct support during birth to get your little football over the goal line of life.
What Does She Do?
A doula’s work goes beyond dabbing sweat from your partner’s brow and telling her to breathe while she grunts and pushes and vows to never let you do this to her again. In fact, studies have shown that doula-supported births can reduce the need for pain medications and might be up to 40.9 percent less likely to result in a C-section.
That data supports other studies that suggest having a doula present also may lead to fewer epidurals and pain medications during birth, which is particularly beneficial if your partner is averse or allergic to pain medications, or dead set on a natural childbirth.
Do Ya Or Don’t Ya?
All that sounds great, but there’s still the matter of deciding whether having a doula is the best thing for you(la). Aside from reading highly informative articles on ultra-cool fathering websites, the best way to do that is to meet with a doula and ask a ton of questions.
Be sure to ask about what kind of training they have received and how that translates to what kind of work they will provide to your partner and you. Also ask about fees, their availability around the due date, and most importantly, their childbirth philosophy. The last thing you want is someone rolling in with ceremonial drums and chanting, when you had more of a downbeat-house-music-and-candlelight vibe in mind.
There is, of course plenty more to consider, including the matter of what the hell your role is when the doula seems to have the whole labor support thing well under wraps. By starting to do your research, you’ve at least partially answered that question — unless you’re still searching Craigslist for a pair of dudes to stage a banjo battle on your porch while your kid is being born.