So I am preparing for my first home birth. I have had five babies previously, but the home birth is a totally new experience for me. I am learning everything as I go. I've read the homebirth/midwife handbook, Spiritual Midwifery, I've found my midwives, I attend my Birth Circles, and I think I may have found a doula. What's a doula you say? It's a birth assistant. A doula plays a different role from the midwife. A midwife is there to be a guide and guardian to the natural birth process. A doula is someone who is there soley for me and my needs--to be my support, hence, my personal birth assistant. She will help try to make me as comfortable as possible and help me with pain management. The role of a doula varies slightly from a home birth to a hospital setting. In addition to the personal assistant and pain management components she gives during a home birth, in the hospital, she can be a "go between" between the laboring mother and hospital staff. She can help explain the childbirth process as the mother goes through it, answering any questions.
For me, the choice to have a doula comes from this being my first totally natural childbirth. Three of my five babies were induced, and with all five, at one point or another during the labor process, I was administered Pitocin. Pitocin gives you contractions on steroids. I opted for the epidural. This time will be different. Pain medication won't be an option and while I look forward it, I hold a little apprehension not knowing what to expect. Having someone there just for me helps ease some of my worries. I handle pain pretty well, but I've read and watched documentaries where laboring women hit that peak of pain. That's my fear--that peak! My doula can help me focus through my contractions and encourage me on when I reach that point where I feel I can't go on. It may not happen. I may have no problems with the labor and delivery process. Everything could go smoothly and I'm able to manage on my own. But I'd rather be prepared. It gives me peace of mind knowing I'll have that personal support should I need it. Of course my husband and my mother will be present, but their role will be different. They're there to share the beautiful experience of a new soul being brought into the world. To witness. While I'll rely on them for certain aspects, I want my doula.
As for many families our financial resources are not unlimited. Paying my midwives is top priority, everything else comes secondary, inclusive of my doula. A certified doula can cost anywhere from $400-600. One solution is finding a student doula, which is what I did. During the process of the certification, a doula needs 2-3 birth experiences. Having received the training but not having the certification, can make it difficult to find clients. Usually you can hire a student doula from $100-200! She needs you as much as you need her. Through a recommendation of an acquaintance of mine, who is herself a fully certified doula, I was able to get the name and number of a student doula in my area. I've spoken with her on the phone a few times and she sounds great. We will meet face to face at a meeting in January. That's when we'll discuss in more detail my birth plan and get to know each other a bit more before my baby's birth day, which will be here before I know it!