Why Not My Mom?

Q: My mom has had seven of her own children and my partner took a childbirth class. How is a doula that much better than either of them?


A: This is a common question and I think the answer lies in taking a step back looking at the big picture. Hiring a doula and having your loved ones with you during birth does not have to be mutually exclusive. It’s not either/or (unless you want it to be). You can actually have your cake and eat it too on this one!


Note: I’m going to be dealing in generalizations here. Obviously not every partner relationship and mother/daughter relationship are great. Even if they are great, not all mothers want their own mamas at their delivery. This is a very personal choice and there’s not a one size fits all answer. However, for the purposes of this post, we’re going to assume that the mother giving birth would genuinely be open to her partner and/or her mother attending her birth. 


There are lots of good reasons to have your partner and your mom in your birthing room. They love you like crazy, for starters! Your mother and your partner know you in intimate ways that your doula probably doesn’t. They know your history because they’ve walked it with you. They know what makes you tick and can offer valuable insight into how to best care for you during labor. Your mother has obviously given birth before, so she can empathize with you in ways that even your partner might not. Maybe your partner and/or mom have joined you for a childbirth class, too. That’s awesome! The more prepared your birth team is, the better.


All of those things can add up to a truly wonderful birth experience, no doubt about it. However – and remember you CAN have your cake and eat it, too! – a doula can be the glue that holds that wonderful experience all together.


Think of it this way:

A doula has*…

  • attended workshops, classes, and undergone training to master the art of labor support.
  • read countless books on childbirth, breast feeding, and postpartum.
  • written essays on the importance of continuous labor support.
  • gotten feedback from birth care professionals like midwives, doctors, and nurses.
  • researched (and continues to research) the most up to date information and studies on best birth practices.
  • made herself familiar with hospital practices and is prepared to help you navigate the medical lingo that can become confusing during birth.


A doula will…

  • be available to you throughout your pregnancy for questions, information, or just a shoulder to lean on.
  • give you unbiased information and will not try to sway you in one way or another. This is your birth after all.
  • have a list of resources and a network of information to get you the best answers to your questions.
  • be happy to answer any and all “awkward” questions that you might not feel comfortable asking someone else.
  • know how to help you manage labor with comfort measures, positions, etc.


A doula will not take the place of your partner or mother during your birth. Their presence is irreplaceable. Period. She will, however, enrich their presence with her own expertise. She will empower your partner to go ahead and try a particular support position. She will work with your mother to ensure that your spiritual and emotional needs are being met. She will make sure that everyone is on the same page as to your desires and pull the team together to be guardians of  your personal birth vision.


A doula is not a divider, but rather a unifier in the birth room. She honors the relationships you have with your loved ones and adds an indispensable element of information, care, and experience that will take your birth experience to the next level.





Additional Resources: 
“If You Don’t Hire a Doula” from Southern Pacific Doulas


*This refers loosely to DONA certified doulas or those working toward DONA certification. Other organizations have different requirements for certification and this is not an exhaustive list of the DONA certification requirements. For more information on DONA certification, follow this link.


Aren’t Doulas Just for Natural Births?

Q: Aren’t doulas just for people having natural births or delivering at home?

A: No way!

It is a common misconception that doulas only provide care to families who choose to deliver at home or who are planning for an unmedicated birth. While it is certainly true that doulas attend a lot of those types of births, doulas exist to improve birth outcomes and that means attending all types of births.


So, how can a doula serve me in a hospital setting?

Doulas are trained with current, evidence based information that keeps them up to speed on common hospital practices and procedures as well as ACOG* guidelines. A doula can help you navigate the often confusing medical jargon used in the hospital setting and lead you to information that will help you make the best decisions for your family. Doulas are not medical practitioners, however, so your doula should never tell you “yea” or “nay” on any particular intervention, procedure, or medication. She’s there to give you unbiased information and support you in your decisions, whatever they may be. Remember, this is your birth, not your doula’s.

Doulas are also trained to assist in comfort measures such as pain management techniques and positioning, so if you’re waiting to be okayed for an epidural or are at a loss as to how to cope with monitors, your doula is there.

It’s a common thought that, once your epidural is placed, there’s nothing to worry about since the pain is gone, right? As a culture, we commonly forget that, though the pain may be dulled, a mother is still laboring. She may not physically feel any of the sensations of contractions, but many mothers still grapple mentally and emotionally with the labor process especially after they’ve gotten an epidural. The holistic approach of a doula makes her especially qualified to support families in this situation.

Many times mothers who have received an epidural have a hard time during the pushing stage of labor. It’s really difficult to know how/when to push when half of your body is numb! Doulas are there to guide mothers in pushing and to encourage mothers when the going gets tough.


But what if I get a c-section?

You may think that a doula is relatively pointless once a c-section is scheduled, however in certain circumstances (dependent upon the care provider) doulas can be allowed in the operating room with their clients. This practice varies based on geography and hospital policy, but it’s definitely worth exploring, as a doula can be a great support in the operating room. After a baby is delivered via c-section it is common that the father or partner goes to be with the infant while the mother is stitched up. Closing a c-section incision takes around 45 minutes, which can be very hard on a mother. While her partner and baby may eventually be near her, it is incredibly helpful to have a person right by a mother’s side to comfort her, keep her informed, and hold space while the operation is completed.


Doulas are an incredible asset in absolutely any birth scenario, whether medicated or not. In hiring a doula families should feel they’re hiring a person who is dedicated to supporting them and educating them to make the choices that are best for their family.