There are so very many reasons that I love the hospital where we will be delivering, but very high on that list is this: they have a free doula program!
We will be giving birth in a teaching hospital, which has advantages and disadvantages. Our local teaching hospital is much more cutting edge than our city’s private hospital; I imagine this is partly because they work to stay up on current trends, new research, etc. to ensure their students are better trained and more likely to be on the forefront of medical developments. Of course, this means that there will definitely be a resident or two and maybe a med student in my delivery, but I also have the head of the OBGYN department for the med school as my OB. He’s legit. And have I mentioned his name is Casanova?? Best OBGYN name ever!
In addition to things like having a c-section rate far below the national average, offering a variety of tools to assist in labor, etc., our hospital offers doula services to anyone who signs up for the program. For free. As in zip. Zilch. Nada. Whether you use the program or not, your hospital bill and what your insurance is billed for remains unchanged. As someone who definitely wanted a doula, this was huge perk for us. In our child-birthing class, one of the doulas told us that our hospital is one of three in the country that has this type of program, which is really surprising since we don’t exactly live in an urban paradise.
The doula program is limited in a few ways. They generally do not attend scheduled c-sections, though they will attend a c-section if a patient starts off delivering vaginally and ends with a c-section. I’m not sure how involved private doulas generally are, but I imagine ours are less involved leading up to labor and delivery. In our program, you generally only meet once or twice with your assigned doula before delivery.
I initially signed up for the doula program and was assigned Doula #1, but I had to change to a different one because of scheduling conflicts with our delivery date. Another big perk of having a large pool of doulas is that it was no problem at all to just switch to another doula. We finally met with Doula #2 recently. She is fantastic, and I think she’ll be a great addition to my delivery team.
When my lil’ dudes flipped to breech a couple of months ago, I started worrying about not being able to use the doula program, but I didn’t back out of the program in case they flipped back to vertex. When we met with Doula #2, we discussed our birth plans, the options our doctor had given us for the Babies Blue’s birth (c-section or possibly a double-breech delivery), and what we could expect the hospital to allow or do in both of these scenarios. She definitely put me at ease that someone would be there to help us advocate for ourselves and our babies. Then, she gave me some of the best news ever. Even if we end up with a scheduled c-section, she will likely be present. She explained that while the doulas don’t generally attend scheduled c-sections, they could do so if there was a special need for it and if the mother really wanted that. This was huge for us.
Having two babies to worry about, who will be born at 36-37 weeks, has weighed heavy on my mind as I’ve thought of our delivery. It is really important to me that Mr. Blue be able to be with the babies while they are taken care of and if they have to be taken to NICU, I’d like him to be able to stay as close to them as the hospital will allow. Having a doula there means that Mr. Blue can worry about the babies without worrying about me and that I won’t feel so alone and cut off from everything if Mr. Blue needs to head out of the operating room with the lil’ dudes. Even if the babies are perfectly healthy, I know I’ll feel so much more comfortable knowing that there’s an extra person on Team Blue to help us navigate these waters.
An extra, extra bonus is that all the doula are trained to assist with breastfeeding. While our hospital has lactation consultants on duty for about 20 hours a day, they can only spend so much time with you since they have many mamas to help. Our doula will stay with us through recovery, make sure we get skin-to-skin time, and help us get both of our babies off to a good start with breastfeeding.
Did you have a doula? If so, what was the biggest benefit?