Does every woman need a doula?

I’m a doula, so I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to answer this question with an unequivocal “yes.”  But that wouldn’t be quite honest, would it? Because, like most things, it’s more complicated than that.

I can’t answer “yes” to that question because here’s my little confession: I had two children and I didn’t have a doula, nor did I feel like I needed one at any point in my labors. And that little tidbit is why I occasionally feel a little guilty about hocking my services to expecting parents. What if they don’t *really* need me? I think at them: ‘You’re good enough! You’re strong enough! And gosh darnit, deep down you already know how to give birth!’

And it’s true!

But then I remember. Usually while laboring, even if deep down you know how to give birth, you still need a lot of reminders. A lot of reminders. And patience. And warm, soothing touch. And the feeling that everyone around you cares about you and they are giving you all the support you need.

That’s compassionate care.

Sometimes you can get it without a doula. For my first birth, I had a homebirth midwife, my sweetie, my mom and my two sisters around me and no shortage of calm, compassionate care. My second birth had fewer relatives, but still plenty of love and support.

But often times, a doula is just what you need to complete the circle of care. You have a midwife or an OB to provide medical care, you have a supportive partner or family member that you love and who loves you and you have a doula that knows you and supports you and your partner, helps explain procedures and options, offers warm, soothing touch and massage and calmly guides you into trusting yourself.

The birth will be what it will be: wild and unpredictable. I’m never attached to a particulars when it comes to the birth, because who are we kidding? Nobody can control all the aspects of labor. If the parents come through their experience feeling compassionately cared for and supported, then I’ve done my job. Everyone deserves that for their birth. Do you need a doula? Maybe not, but it’s one great way to increase your chances of having a happily memorable birth day.