Making it through the long hours of labor with your motivation intact can be a bit dicey. Hours of pain and concentration can lead to even more hours of even worse pain and pushing (doesn’t that sound fun), but gives way to the most glorious moments in any mother’s life. Getting through each contraction and being ready to face what’s ahead is more easily managed if you don’t have to do it alone. Finding trusted, supportive partners, friends, or even professionals to help coach you through even the most powerful emotional and physical moments.
My husband was a great coach–he cried with me, and even sweated out a new nervous minutes with me. But some women aren’t so lucky–their partner may be a fainter, or grossed out by even the thought of being near the delivery. Some women don’t want their sexual partner to see them in a birthing position–I even had a friend whose husband waited in the parking lot during the delivery. That was what they both wanted. I know–it seems strange to me also–but as a couple they agreed that they were both uncomfortable, and this made them happy.
That said, if you don’t have a great coach, or your husband wants to go out for coffee instead of hold a leg, I can’t stress enough the benefit of a doula. Doulas are certified, trained birth coaches. Some may have a medical background, while others do not. They are usually certified through organizations like DONA.org which provide training in the birth process, normal prenatal development, pain management and coaching among other topics. Some doulas may stay with you even into your postpartum period as well as after you get home from the hospital to assist with infant care, breast feeding and light cooking or cleaning.
Doula supported women usually require less pain medication, and higher satisfaction with the birth overall. A doula may also cut any tension by being the calming force during a birth, which lessens tensions between the mom-to-be and her partner. And that makes everybody happier in the end. Perhaps some day I can share with you the many amazing stories of how pregnancy and labor sends some partners into a tailspin of crazy behaviors…
There are doulas available across the country–you can perform a quick internet search for one in your area (many have personal sites) or search through groups like DONA. Arrange a personal meeting or two with your doula before birth to ensure you are a right fit for each other. If you prefer, meet with two or three and pick the one who most closely represents what you will need during your delivery. Doula assistance does not come cheaply either–not typically covered by insurance, you can expect to pay between $500 and $700 start to finish.