8 Reasons People Don't Hire Doulas

Old Wives Tales About Doulas?

Two women together in labor doula
Photo © XiXinXing/Getty Images

There are many people out there who are pregnant and have considered having a doula attend their birth but decided against it. When I ask women why they choose not to have a doula, some answers are surprising. Do you see yourself in this list?

She doesn’t know what a doula does.

A doula is someone, in most cases a woman, who has received training to assist women and families in birth. They are an addition to the birth team and work towards helping you have the experience that you want, using physical, emotional and mental support. The truth is, what a doula does, looks different for every woman and every birth.

She thinks doula replaces the partner.

 A doula is not a replacement for a partner. While a doula probably has more experience in birth than the partner, the doula can’t bring things to the table that the partner can, specifically their love of the laboring woman. That said, some partners want to take very active roles in the birth process, while others do not. A doula can act as an assistant to the partner who wants a very active role, helping to remind them of things the woman wanted before labor or making suggestions, but allowing the partner to be the main support as the doula helps to set the environment up and maintain the little pieces of the laboring puzzle. A doula can also take a very active role in the support of the laboring woman; and quite honestly, there are some labors I’m at where I’m not sure how we made it with just two support people (the partner and doula). I’ve even been to births with two doulas and one partner and we were all busy every second of the labor.

A doula is not recommended by their doctor.

If your doctor or midwife is not recommending the use of a doula for anyone, that would be a red flag to me. I would want to know why they felt that way. Perhaps they don’t really know what a doula is or what a doula does. Maybe the doctor has never worked with a doula or has had a previous negative experience. Maybe it’s more a chance for the doctor to say how they feel and for you to talk about why you would like a doula. Sometimes a heart to heart conversation really is all that is needed. Sometimes you can even have a meeting between your doula of choice and your doctor. But if your doctor is saying you don’t need support – get specific about how your needs will be met and by whom. If they say they and the hospital staff provide that – ask other women who have given birth there, because their idea of taken care of and the doctor’s idea may be totally different.

She has a midwife already.

A midwife can certainly have some of the same skills in her toolbox that a doula does. (There are also some doctors who have these tools!) But a doula is uniquely situated to only be caring for a single mother at a time and is not also managing her medical care and that of her baby. This unique focus on the part of a doula is a great addition to any team, even when a midwife is on the team already.

She doesn't plan on a home birth.

Many mothers erroneously think that having a doula is only for mothers choosing home birth. Certainly, there are doulas who do work in a home birth setting. There are also doulas who only work in a home birth setting, but there are also doulas who only work in hospitals or birth centers. Ask around, you can find doulas who will work in hospitals, the vast majority of doulas work in hospitals.

She is considering an epidural.

A doula is for every woman who wants one, regardless of how she intends to give birth. This includes using medications like an epidural or even having a planned cesarean. A doula never dictates what you should do in your birth, but does help you achieve your goals that you set forth. Sometimes plans change and those plans are outside of anyone’s control. Your doula will help you as you deal with new decisions that have to be made in labor, including changes in avoiding or seeking medications.

All doulas are hippies/earth mothers/science geeks.

Just as mothers come in all shapes, sizes and philosophies - so do doulas. If you’re looking for a doula that is or is not a certain philosophy, there’s a doula out there who meets your criteria! I’ve certainly had people shocked when I say I’m a doula because of stereotypes that abound, but that’s okay. Just ask for referrals from others and tell them what you’re looking for in a doula.

She worries a doula costs too much.

Cost is certainly an issue for some families. The vast majority of doulas will work with mothers who wish to have their services to make it affordable. This can be through the use of payment plans, bartering, and sometimes sliding scale costs. There are numerous ways to pay for your doula. That said, please know that doulas work long, hard hours. They invest a lot in their education and the costs in time away from their family and work is great. Doulas deserve to be fairly compensated for their work.

Do you see your reason here? Do you perhaps see that there might be others ways to think about it? Granted, I’m a doula, so I’m fairly pro-doula. I don’t believe that everyone needs or wants a doula. Though I also know that there are women who see barriers to having a doula that aren’t really insurmountable if they truly want the support of a doula.

Read more: How to Hire a Doula

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