Choosing Doula Care: Is it Right for You?

Doulas, Events, VBAC

On a rainy Wednesday night in trendy Greenpoint, Brooklyn, CiC hosted a brand new Healthy Birth Workshop, “Choosing Doula Care: Is it Right For You?” at Caribou Baby. The workshop was developed in anticipation of the launch of the New York City Doula Report: Advancing the Goals of the Affordable Care Act on October 29. Led by Mary Esther Malloy, an experienced childbirth educator, doula, and Choices in Childbirth Program Committee member, several panelists discussed what a doula is and how they assist in birth.  Expecting parents across all stages of pregnancy filled the cozy wood-paneled space and snacked on healthy local goodies provided by Good Eggs.

After a warm-up session where audience members shared their knowledge of doulas, and their questions about doula care, we had a truer sense of what they wanted out of the evening. Some of the questions were issues of cost, experience needed, how they would work with partners and providers, and whether they could really do that much if a couple had already taken a great childbirth preparation class or had a great provider.

The first speakers were Daru and Michael who had their two children with them. They had had the experience of two different births with their doula at each (first in hospital, second at home). Daru stressed that a doula could do things that family members couldn’t, because the family members – the very people you trust and love most – are the same people who worry about you the most. The doula could offer a different perspective. Daru also did not always like things Michael was doing, and felt like the doula did those things better, freeing up Michael to just be a good partner and support her in other ways. Michael stressed that having a doula was a huge relief for him!

The second speaker was Abby who began by discussing her total skepticism of doulas when she started her journey. After two complicated miscarriages, she had a complete change of heart and knew that a doula would be her best shot at taking agency and being a good advocate for herself. While her first birth did not go as planned, ending in an emergency c-section, she felt listened to and respected throughout the whole process and is certain that having a doula allowed her to view her birth as nothing short of “amazing”. Leaving the hospital after surgery was really intense and scary and she was grateful that the doula visited and helped her pump exclusively when breastfeeding complications arose. With her second birth two years later, she had planned a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) with the same doula. Although the baby was early and did require a few days in the NICU, she had a successful vaginal birth, was able to breastfeed with help from her doula, and feels that having a doula was the best gift she and her husband could have given one another.

Tatiana and Patrick rounded out the parent speaker portion of the night. They had been in the seats of the expecting parents just a few months ago, attending several of our Healthy Birth Workshops during Tatiana’s pregnancy. They encouraged the audience to take advantage of as many of these workshops as possible! Tatiana started by sharing that she knew she’d wanted a doula since her aunt had had one decades earlier. She talked about how the doula helped them time contractions, she was always willing to take phone calls prenatally, and she helped immensely with the long second stage of labor. She compared a doula to a real estate broker, advocating to get a mom the best experience possible. Patrick recalled the relief he felt at having their doula there during moments when he had no idea what to do.

Our panel of expert doulas, Megan Davidson and Maiysha Campbell, closed out the night. Megan explained to the audience how a doula allows a partner to be much more present for the birth and also added that most doctors want you to have a great experience, so they are often on board with bringing in a good, low-profile doula. Maiysha shared many examples of how she’s helped partners and distinguished between a good birth “on paper” and a good birth with a doula that’s about more than just the clinical aspects. Lindsay and Samantha from Carriage House Doulas attended and helped further the audiences’ understanding of what doulas can offer.

We hope to continue sharing information with New York City expecting parents about how to have a great birth experience.  The wheels are turning for more additions in 2015!