Thursday, February 10, 2011

Doulas and Homebirth

In a previous post, I discussed how doulas can benefit women with various different birth plans and support scenarios, but a commenter notified me that I left one out...

How can a doula benefit me if I'm having a homebirth?

Part of the answer to this question relates closely to another post I started a long time ago but haven't finished yet about the similarities and differences in the roles of doulas and midwives. I will try to get that finished soon so that it can complement this post. I believe that the role of a midwife is meant to encompass the role of the doula, but it doesn't always happen that way.

I think that the degree of necessity for a doula in a homebirth is going to vary depending on several factors. The following are some situations where it would be to your advantage to have a doula at your homebirth:

busy midwife: If your midwife is at another birth when your labor begins, she may send a partner to be with you. You should be given an opportunity to meet any partner your midwife works with before your birth, but you may not have the same relationship with her you you have with your own midwife, but you will have that relationship with your doula.

absent partner: If you are a single mom or there is a chance your partner may not be present for the birth, a doula can act as your primary birth partner. This may also apply if you have a husband who is uncomfortable with playing an active role in the birth, disturbed by blood, etc.

sometimes even homebirthers need to be protected from trauma: Unfortunately, not all midwives are as gentle and respectful as what most homebirthing moms are looking for. I recently came across some birth stories of women (the blogger at Mandala Mom and Dy at Complete Beginnings) who hexperienced trauma because of the way they were treated by their homebirth midwives. I will give the founder of the midwifery method implicated in these posts the benefit of the doubt, and say that I don't think she intended for her ideas to be used this way, but I think it is important to understand that things like this can happen, and would like to propose that a good doula can help you find your voice when a provider (even a midwife) is trying to do something to you that you do not want. The women in the stories above both said that they had no indication of their midwives having anything in their philosophy that they disagreed with. All birthing women need to watch out for themselves, and a doula can be your watchdog.

What if I want an unassisted birth?

I am by no means an expert on UC. I imagine that for some women, hiring a doula may not align with their reasons for choosing an unassisted birth. Others may see a benefit to having an extra person around who knows about unmedicated birth is experienced in birth support in case you need an another pair of hands for something.

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