But after two babies and two positive birth experiences, I still wanted a doula for my third baby. She was born just 45 minutes after we got to the hospital, and my husband made the comment that we wasted that money on the doula since it didn’t take as long this time. I countered that it was money well spent. This is why.
- It’s tax-deductible. A doula is a medical expense. So whatever amount you pay you can deduct come tax time. Certainly if you have family nearby they can do some of the services that friends and family usually provide. But sometimes those “helpers” are more work than help. Ask your tax professional if you are able to personally able to deduct this expense.
- The support doesn’t start or end with labor. My husband only saw the value the doula provided for me during labor. What he didn’t see: texts about pains, cramping, discomfort during my pregnancy. The “What if my water just broke?” texts. “When is this baby going to come?” texts. “When will my milk come in?” texts. The two-hour meeting we had to fill out all of my birth plan choices so neither my husband or I had to remember our options, try to look something up in the moment, or hang an obnoxious sign on the door. The phone calls and Facebook messages we exchanged during my pregnancy. My doula was the one who taught me how to side-lie breastfeed, which, since I had two kids already, was a lifesaver.
- The relationships with hospital staff. I only saw my midwives during my pregnancy, and only went to the hospital during labor, but my doula is constantly up there interacting with staff on behalf of patients. She knew everyone by name, had resources, and were able to help the nurses with little things for me so they could focus on the bigger stuff.
- Relief and direction for your spouse. Especially if your partner doesn’t do well in a medical setting, a doula can be a huge relief. You’re never alone, and your partner can take a breather, go to the restroom or get something you need without leaving you all alone. It’s also helpful to have someone there to remind them what to do for you during labor, like massage, using pressure points, and walking support. They don’t have to try to think about everything they learned in birthing classes in that moment.
- Doulas often include a home visit in their price. This means they come to your house after baby is born and talk to you about how you’re doing, how the baby is, how feeding is going, and answer questions. It’s a huge safety net to have someone who knows you come by and check in without you asking, since many times as women we don’t give a voice to our needs. Doulas often also have additional services they can provide for an hourly rate, such as making meals and doing light housework.
No two birth experiences are alike, even for the same woman, so for me it was reassuring to have a support system during pregnancy, at the hospital and after birth. Whether your birth support is your mom, sister, or another female you have a close relationship with, every birthing experience benefits from supportive, knowledgeable care.
Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three girls. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City.