January 23, 2006

Dear Lazyweb > Has Anyone Used a Doula for Birthing?

Dear Lazyweb,

Melissa is interested in using a doula for this birth. Can anyone who has used a doula offer advice or recommend someone in the Knoxville area?

(FYI, a doula is someone who assists the mother during delivery. She (and they're almost all women) isn't a midwife. A midwife is responsible for delivery. Nowadays a doctor does that. The doula takes care of the mother and makes her more comfortable, coaches her, provides massage, etc. They also frequently help after birth or provide breastfeeding assistance and coaching.)

Posted by lesjones | TrackBack


I don't have any direct experience with doulas, though my mother might be able to recommend someone.. She's a midwife, which is why I take exception with this:

A midwife is responsible for delivery. Nowadays a doctor does that.

That's actually not true -- midwifery has lately seen a spike in popularity. Vanderbilt has an entire midwifery practice (that bought my mom's old practice).

If you find the idea of a doula appealing, you may look into using a midwife in general -- they can provide a nice alternative to the baby-mill check-in/check-out type approach to delivery in most hospitals.

Posted by: Chris Wage at January 23, 2006

I am truly not trying to be snarky or anything. Also, I have never birthed a baby. But, I was under the impression that this would be your job. Enlighten me, what do the spouse/significant others do in the birthing room these days?

Posted by: power5483 at January 23, 2006

Chris: fair enough, but we'll be using a doctor. Melissa had to have a C-section last time, so we want to be somewhere with an operating room.

Power: I did it last time and will be in the room again this time (though to a somewhat lesser degree - I'm not going to play catch this time). Thing is, it's not like most guys are really experts in birthing babies or helping women get through pregnancy. I'm certainly not. I think Melissa would probably be better off with someone taking more care of her - less pain, less stress.

Having a doula's help would also free me up to do phone calls to friends and family, take pictures, and make arrangements and decisions with a clear head.

When we got home after the last baby we were both totally wiped out, from the birth, surgery, and the subsequent stay in the hospital room (where you can't sleep for more than an hour or two because of all the people coming in and out). I think the birthing experience would be more enjoyable with a helping hand.

Posted by: Les Jones at January 23, 2006

I used a midwife at the hospital for 3 of my children. A doctor was seconds away if I had needed one. It was a much preferable experience to the ones I had with my first two babies (doctors). Alice at Whoa Mama (http://schmalice.blogspot.com/) used a Doula for her twins' delivery and she loved it.

Posted by: Cathy at January 23, 2006

The doula is sort of splitting the difference for us. Medical care from the doctor and a high-touch approach from the doula.

Melissa's pregnancies are sorta high risk because of her age (36 this time). She had pregnancy-induced high blood pressure with Katie. About a month before the delivery the doctors hospitalized her for four days and put her on bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. This time her blood pressure is OK so far, but she'll be attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section), so that'll be another issue.

Posted by: Les Jones at January 23, 2006

Les I really think you should check out a more medicalized midwife. For example, Chris' mom's practice is AT Vanderbilt Hospital and has access to the same resources that the obstetricians do. I couldn't look it up since Belmont cut off my access to their academic journals (SOBs), but it wouldn't suprise me one bit if midwifery is more successful at VBAC than obstetrics (it is more successful at darn near everything else).

Posted by: Amanda at January 23, 2006

I don't have any references handy, but I know that their C-section rate is way lower, as are the numbers on things like perineal hemmorhaging and stuff like that, because they're less likely to quickly resort to surgey, epidurals or episiotomies..

Posted by: Chris Wage at January 23, 2006

We had a doula, and she was an absolute blessing. It was particularly helpful in our case, since we didn't have any friends or family up there to help us, and I was as least as annoying to Terri as I was a support.

Terri would be more than happy to talk to Melissa if she wants to, and you might also give Katie G a call and get her sister Betsy's ph number -- she's a license'd and degree'd childbirth/infant care education provider (or something like that), and I suspect she knows the scoop on the best local midwives and doulas. Plus, she's a super cool gal.

Posted by: Steve K. at January 23, 2006

Actually, come to think of it, I think Betsy's a doula, too. If so, I highly, highly recommend her.

Posted by: Steve K. at January 23, 2006

My daughter-in-law had a doula and a midwife for the deliveries of my two grandchildren, both of whom were born prematurely in a hospital. Everything went well, and I think it's the way to go if there are no complications. In our case, the first grandchild was born with heart problems on a holiday, and doctors were scarce at the hospital. The heart problems became alarmingly apparent when the child was six days old but might have been caught earlier if she had been thoroughly examined by a doctor right after birth. Something to consider.

Posted by: Donna Locke at January 23, 2006

Chris and Amanda: doulas apparently lower the c-section rate and increase breastfeeding success, etc., so we hope were combining that with modern medicine to have BOB W.

Steve: I didn't know you guys used a doula. If we had known that we would have quizzed you and Terri when we saw you this weekend.

Donna: Yeah, once we had to have a c-section the first time we were committed to the modern medical route for the baby, and we're adding the doula for a nicer experience that's a little easier on both of us.

Posted by: Les Jones at January 23, 2006
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