The answer is easy – YES!
I’ve had two pregnancies ending in two beautiful daughters. The birth experiences were vastly different though, for many reasons.
With my first pregnancy, I read so many books and prepared myself as best I could to have a natural birth. I ended up choosing a C-section 24 hours after induced labor without much progress. My doctor recommended the surgery because of fears of the size of my baby, who was estimated to weigh more than ten and a half pounds. She was born weighing 9 lb 10 oz, and I was devastated by my choice. My support system was my husband, and while we both agreed what we wanted as far as birth went, we didn’t equip ourselves with the tools to make it happen in the face of medical suggestions.
I knew I wanted things different for my second baby’s birth, specifically a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). While I wasn’t opposed to a C-section if necessary, I felt like my first surgery hadn’t actually been necessary in hindsight. What I really wanted was no regrets!
Enter – doula.
I waited pretty late in my pregnancy to research doulas (I have a superstitious and sometimes pessimistic nature and with the gestational diabetes I was pretty sure I’d be back on the operating table). Once we connected though, I knew that working with Rene’ Johnson from Birth Help would make all the difference for our birth experience. Rene’ has been supporting women for as long as I’ve been alive, and it was her extensive experience that led us to choose her services. There are a lot of doula options in Baton Rouge though, and I can say a doula is worth every penny and then some!
My husband and I took natural child birth classes offered by Birth Help, and they helped us immeasurably. We learned a lot (and I thought I’d been so prepared through my reading before the first pregnancy), and we gained new ways of communicating with each other and with our doctor.
Having a doula meant having someone intimately familiar with childbirth present throughout labor, and she also was so helpful during the pregnancy, encouraging our doctor-patient communication and helping explain things we didn’t understand and think through all our choices.
Our doula was key to our labor induction, which we did as naturally as possible (you can read our birth story here). She recommended different positions to try and kept encouraging me even through the hardest parts. Although I ended up with an epidural, I was able to achieve a VBAC, and I know I wouldn’t have ever been able to do that without my team’s support. My doula’s experience and encouragement combined with my husband’s love and presence helped me meet that VBAC goal.
If I ever have another child (and that’s a HUGE if), I wouldn’t hesitate to hire a doula again, although this time I’d do it earlier in the pregnancy! No matter what your plans for birth, I would highly recommend a doula as part of your child birth support system!
Mari Walker lives in Baton Rouge with her husband, Shawn, and daughters Jane (born November 2011) and Livia (born March 2016). A freelance communications professional originally from Oklahoma, Mari also blogs at silvermari.com.