Ten Myths about Doulas

#1 – A doula will prevent my baby’s other parent from feeling fully involved with our baby’s birth

A doula works with the whole family. When the partner is looking tentative, the doula can say something like “Why don’t you stand here and hold her through the contraction while I rub her back?” Right away, the partner feels involved and knows what to do. In a study comparing families who had doulas with families who didn’t, it was found that partners who had a doula’s help touched the labouring mother MORE than partners who did not have a doula. And mothers who had a doula were more likely to feel satisfied with their partner’s role at the birth. For more on this – see http://www.dona.org/mothers/dads_and_doulas.php

#2 – A doula is the same as a midwife

A doula works along with the mother’s midwife or doctor to provide emotional, physical and informational support during pregnancy, labour and the post-partum period. She can help them find information, provide reassurance, help them communicate with their care-provider, hold a hand, rub a back. She adds to the experience of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding by helping parents feel safe and supported. She is not a clinical care provider and does not have the level of training of a midwife or physician. For more about doulas see www.dona.org/mothers/index.php

#3 – A doula will boss me around and tell me what to do during labour.

A doula’s role is to help the mother feel in control and “on top of” the events of her labour. The doula spends several hours in prenatal meetings getting to know the mother and her partner, their preference and plans. The doula helps the parents implement the birth plan while helping them to accept the changes to the plan that may be needed as labour progresses. For more on how a doula can help, see http://www.dona.org/mothers/why_use_a_doula.php

#4 – Doulas are all natural childbirth types who will look down on me if I choose to use pain medication or need to have a caesarean.

The doula’s priority is for the mother to feel that she had every support she needed during labour. If those supports include an epidural or a caesarean, the doula helps the mother to feel good about her choice and to experience her baby’s birth fully, with no regrets.

#5 – Doulas only go to home births.

Most of the births attended by doulas are in the hospital. Doulas’ clients may be in the care of a family physician or a midwife. Doulas work with all sorts of families and care-providers, in the hospital as well as at home. They work where their clients need and want to be.

#6 – A doula will just be an extra stranger at the birth – I want it to be an intimate time with my partner and family.

Labour and birth in a hospital are not intimate times – nurses, lab technicians, the obstetrician, the anesthesiologist, the paediatrician, the resident will all come and go. The family doctor or midwife may be part of a call-group or have a back-up. A doula gets to know her client and the partner through several prenatal visits and promises to be there throughout labour. She is not a stranger, but a trusted and familiar face. And a doula can make the birth feel more intimate by keeping the door closed, keeping the lights dim and making sure the music is playing while the partner can concentrate on staying close to the labouring mother.

#7 – I don’t need a doula – the nurse will take care of me at the hospital.

The nurses who work on Labour and Delivery love their job and are very good at it. But they are not able to be with the labouring mother every minute. They have clinical responsibilities and must cover for colleagues who have to take breaks. The doula works with the nurse to make sure the mother and her partner always have support and reassurance.

#8 – The doula will argue with the hospital staff.

The doula’s role if to help the parents have a good memory of their baby’s birth. A good doula doesn’t argue with anyone. She reduces stress by helping parents communicate well with their caregivers and get all the information they need to make their own decisions. The doula does not speak for the parents, she helps them speak for themselves. For more on doulas see http://www.dona.org/mothers/faqs_birth.php

#9 – I don’t need a doula – I have a midwife.

Midwives provide excellent, individualized care. But they have responsibilities to other clients and their clinic. The midwife is not present during early labour – which is usually the longest part of labour. Once active labour has begun, the midwife is there, but her focus on the progress of the labour and the clinical well-being of mother and baby does not always allow her the time to provide labour support. The doula and midwife work together to provide full support to the mother and her family.

#10 – I can’t afford a doula.

Doula fees cover a wide range. Ask the doulas you interview if they will allow for a payment plan. Many are happy to do so. Ask around about newly trained doulas who will take clients on at a lower cost in order to get experience. There is a doula out there for every woman who wants one – just ask.