The honest opinion from a doula. Are we worth having?
It would be easy to make this post a selling/self-promotion post, but that wouldn't be real or honest. You could ask many people about whether they would get a doula or hire a doula for their birth or postnatal period. Some would praise them like no tomorrow and some would say 'well, you just gotta get on with it. So what's the point of the fuss and spending more money?' Both relevant opinions and a valid question.
Honestly, if you asked me 5 years ago I would have said that a doula was only for SOME people - the uber-rich or the daisy crowned, kumbaya singers. Nowadays, after training to become a doula and setting up my podcast @britainsbirthstories - I can confidently say I was W R O N G. When I finished my training I realised that anyone and everyone can and could have a doula - but because of our communal and societal views and pressures, not many of us do. I think many people think that when you hire a doula it's because you're 'showing off ' or 'splurging' and that they are nowhere near as useful as a midwife. We will never ever deny the fact that most midwives are amazing and extremely well trained and yes, they do work that doulas are not qualified to do - like medical procedures. But midwives in most hospitals, birth centres and NHS related facilities are stretched thin. They have cases of women, birthers and families to support and don't have unlimited time to support just you during your birth. A doula is solely there for you, your family and your birth/pregnancy/postnatal period. They will give you all the assurance support you need when it's your time; there are no deadlines or time limits or shift changes - it's just you and your doula throughout.
With regards to the idea that having a doula is a sign of wealth or showing off your money - this is far from the truth. Yes, some doulas charge thousands of pounds, yes some doulas could be labelled 'expensive' but they have priced themselves this way because of their standards, experience and because they also need to make a living. This is not to say that all doulas are the same in terms of pricing; when you do your research you'll find that there are so many birth workers (including myself) who have an amazing sliding scale for prices that have been made to help those who may not be in the best financial spot - still receive care and support from a doula. Most doulas also have payment plans too so that the cost of having a doula doesn't become another thing to stress or ruminate about. So, if you decided to hire a doula and people see that as costly and boastful - remember those thoughts and ideas are their issue and mainly due to their ignorance - they have not taken the time to understand doulas and how they work and what they do; which is why they hear a number and rush to conclusions.
Personally, I feel the main reasons people don't hire doulas or don't even consider doulas as an option are because of: lack of knowledge and social or generational pressure/standards. Many are unaware of the financial options and benefits that come with a doula and many have been told by other relatives or those around them that 'if I can do it without a doula, why would you need one?' Well, you should have one so that you consistently receive the support and care that you deserve throughout your pregnancy, labour and/or postnatal journey. Prioritizing your own care and mental and physical health is NOT selfish, self-indulgent or unnecessary.
In reality, a doula isn't a necessity. They are people you choose to be involved in those journey of your life - but it is statically proven that these people you choose to involve bring about so many benefits. *Such as, 26.3% of birthers had a home birth with doula support compared with the 2.4% national rate. Additionally, 12.5% of births support by doulas ended in caesarean section, just under half the national rate of 25.5%. Facts are facts and doulas are doulas. Always try to make informed choices for yourself instead of listening to others and their experiences only.
At the end of the day, you deserve the best, you should have the best and you could have the best - with a doula. Try researching and inquiring before assuming that you don't need one or can't afford one. At the end of the day, doulas want to help and most will be willing to work together with you to create an ideal scenario for you both/all.
*The statistics included were from a research study conducted among the doula community within the past 5 years. Please go to @nurturing_birth for more info.
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