There are many loving, kind, knowledgeable nurses who, in many ways, can help you similarly to a doula. So you may be wondering if it’s worth the expense of hiring a doula.
I recently had a client whose doctor, upon hearing that she was hiring a doula, told her that the nurse would be with her the whole time anyways. Why would the doctor discourage her from hiring a doula? Why would the doctor mislead her to believe that she could count on continuous care from a nurse? I cannot answer these questions without getting into that doc’s head.
But I can tell you how your doula supports you in ways that a nurse generally cannot.
-The nurse works for the hospital. Your doula works for you.
When it comes down to it, the nurse’s priority must be hospital rules and protocol. S/he must also follow doctor’s orders. Once the nurse has finished the paperwork and procedures required for your admission to the hospital, only then will s/he be able to focus on your comfort and provide the type of support you would have from a doula. In addition the nurse may be called away if there is an emergency or if the maternity floor is short-staffed.
Your doula, on the other hand, has you as her only priority. She has gotten to know you in prenatal visits and is familiar with your hopes and wishes for this birth experience. Likely, she has already been with you for a few hours at home and knows how to help you manage the contractions. While the nurse is focused on your admittance and assessing your situation, your doula is focused on helping you to stay comfortable and relaxed through contractions so that your labor doesn’t slow down. Your doula works only for you, so she will not be called away to help someone else while you are in labor.
-If you want continuous support, you want a doula.
There is no guarantee that the nurse will be available to provide continuous support throughout the duration of your labor. When there is a shift change, s/he will leave and you will be handed over to a new nurse. This may happen several times, depending on when you arrive at the hospital and how long your labor lasts. And as mentioned above, the nurse’s availability will also be dependent upon staffing and emergency situations on the maternity floor.
Your doula has no shift change…she will stay with you for the duration of your labor, providing you with continuous support.
-Your nurse is likely a stranger. You have a relationship with your doula.
Even if you have a chance to develop a relationship with your favorite nurse, she will leave when her shift is over. At this point, you’ll need to start over with a new nurse, whom you may or may not like.
During your pregnancy, you met with your doula for several prenatal consults. You decided ahead of time that you like this person and feel comfortable and safe with her. Making this connection with your doula during your pregnancy ensures that you will have continuous support throughout your labor from a person whom you know and trust. Feeling safe and relaxed signals the body to secrete oxytocin, which helps contractions stay strong, your cervix to open up, and your labor to move along smoothly.
LABOR IS UNPREDICTABLE, BUT YOUR DOULA SUPPORT IS FOR SURE!
Still not convinced?
Check out this research as summarized by Evidence Based Birth…
In 2012, Hodnett et al. published an updated Cochrane review on the use of continuous support for women during childbirth. They pooled the results of 22 trials that included more than 15,000 women.
The best results occurred when women had continuous labor support from a doula— someone who was NOT a staff member at the hospital and who was NOT part of the woman’s social network.
When continuous labor support was provided by a doula, women experienced a:
*For these outcomes, results with a doula were better than all the other types of continuous support that were studied (partner, family member, nurse). For the other outcomes, there was no difference between types of continuous support.
New Day Doula
Rainbow and Mary share thoughts on pregnancy, birth, and the parenting journey.