Want more insights from PSP members? Check out Wisdom from our 2020–21 Birthing Experience Survey, which includes advice specifically for folks considering a birthing doula and/or post-partum doula.
The positives of hiring a doula:
- A doula can be your advocate at the hospital
- A doula offers consistent care throughout the birth
- A doula can guide you through the first steps of being a new parents
- A doula can be a great resource if you are inexperienced, nervous or first time parent
- View all the "pro" responses here.
- View further resources here.View further resources here.
- Your partner/ spouse can be just as good an advocate; similarly your OB if you have a great relationship with them
- A doula can make your partner feel insufficient
- A doula can be expensive
- A doula can be "too many cooks" in the birthing room
- A doula is not a substitute for medical advice
- A birth is over quickly and it’s postpartum is when you need more helps.
- View all the "nay" responses here.
“My husband and I knew we would want a doula. It was our first birth experience and we didn't want our parents at the birth because we knew their nervousness would not be helpful to us. We wanted someone who would be ours throughout the whole labor and birth, not just when we were being checked on or during pushing. We also wanted someone to help us when we were not sure about something or just help each os us out. Having planned to be at Brooklyn Birthing Center then being transferred to Maimonides was incredibly scary and stressful and our doula was crucial here (she actually admitted me while my husband spent 45 minutes looking for parking because the parking garage at the hospital was closed!!!). We interviewed 3-4 doulas and went with my feeling. The doula we chose reminded me very much of my good friend who is a doula but lives far away, so it was really that instant calm feeling I got. We used Birth Focus to meet the different doulas. It is an investment, but I'd do it all over again and will use one in the future if we can.”
“Was it worth it?: YES. This was our first child and birth, so I knew my husband and I would need some guidance. He agreed that we would likely need help but felt odd about having a stranger ( of sorts) there at such an intimate moment, but by the time we were in the hospital, Rebecca (our doula) didn't feel like a stranger and there are plenty of other strangers around anyway (nurses etc). So if you worry you may feel funny or self-conscious, you have to remember the context you will eventually be in! Rebecca was so caring and reassuring and guided us through numerous pain-management positions ( until I got the epidural!) and also helped hold my legs and encourage me while pushing (for 3 hours!). We also had numerous pre-birth meetings so she knew us and our wishes well (including reiki sessions, which was so relaxing during pregnancy!!)
What I loved about her was that she was totally non-judgmental in every way. I had had a few miscarriages and was therefore VERY anxious during the pregnancy. She was so calming and reassuring without judging my anxiety (which was over- the -top). She also never inserted her own beliefs about things - instead, she supported and guided appropriately. I ended up getting induced on my due date because I was so anxious (I had been pregnant for a year and half at that point pretty much continuously!) and she totally odd not judge that decision at all, though I'm guessing she may not have gone that route herself! She always knew what I needed and responded supportively.
While I was in labor, she was a champ - hung with us in the hospital through the night, don't think she are or slept much, and was so warm and supportive throughout. She was also very available leading up to the birth and came a week after to check on me- and wrote a beautiful and detailed story about the birth for us!”
“Both my husband I wanted a doula. We both agreed we wanted the support of someone more knowledgeable and experienced in childbirth and I was aiming for a natural birth. Jax, our doula, was invaluable! First, my labor was quite long, so even though I had a c-section after 30+ hours, Jax was with us and supporting us for a good 24 hrs. She helped us labor at home and in the hospital, made it possible for my husband to get food and rest as needed, and supported all of our decisions as we needed increasing interventions and stayed until I was in recovery with my little man in my arms. She also came for her follow up visit the next week.
I think it depends on your partner and if you have other people who you are comfortable with supporting you through labor, but I would encourage anyone considering a doula to at least talk to a few.
I also had a postpartum doula come for just 1 day (4hrs) and would have had her come more if my mother and mother in law were not around as much in the first few weeks. She was also fabulous - I was able to nap, she gave me some breastfeeding tips, made me lunch and generally gave me a chance to pull myself together so that I could be a more effective parent once she left. We would likely hire a doula again, just because you never know what is going to happen in childbirth and having the support is amazing! But I would be much more willing to hire a less expensive/less experienced doula the second time around now that I've been through it once.
And the negative experiences do sound like either a. a doula who wasn't fully committed or b. a personality mismatch, which is why an in person interview is so important.”
“That's hard stuff! Get yourself a doula!”
“Statistically, doulas drop C section rates dramatically. They can be expensive but so worth it. It just felt important to have an advocate in the room when things went wrong. Someone I could rely on to give advice and have my best interests in mind.”
“We are using a doula. We interviewed four people based on recommendations from people we trusted. All four of them were lovely, it was just a matter of the best personality fit. The price of the doula will depend on how many births they have attended. I know people who have had good experiences at both ends of the spectrum. Personally, I think this is money very well spent. There is a bunch of research showing that women who are consistently attended by one person during the birth process (as opposed to a series of l&d nurses though shift changes) have lower intervention rates and better outcomes. Doulas do get booked up, though, so I encourage people to be looking sooner rather than later.”
“I found my doula to be the most helpful thing since I labored mostly at home. If you are considering one, definitely go for it!”
“We are having a home birth (as long as no complications arise between now and December!) and our midwife requires first-time moms to have a doula. I was a little skeptical at first (mainly because I was (and to some extent still am) not totally clear on what they "do" in the whole process, although I'm getting a better idea), but the way our doulas explained their role was to act as a sort of "Sherpa" who has traveled this road many times before and can handle all the non-medical questions that will inevitably arise through the process. I don't, however, view them as giving out medical advice, and if I had a doula who was very pushy about telling me how to handle things like when to go to the hospital, I would be gun-shy too! I would expect our doulas to defer to the midwife (or in others' cases, the doctor) about those decisions. All that being said, we are glad that we are going to have the doula, because neither one of us will have a clue what we're doing!”
"I was nervous with my first birth too. But there was no way I was going to pay that much for a doula so I opted out. After days of labor my midwives kind of assigned me a doula for free because she had never attended a birth in the US before. She came to my house the morning of, went to the birthing center with us, and stayed with me and my husband all that day. None of us knew what the hell we were doing but we all muddled through it together and it was memorable and wonderful. I gave her a $200 tip. Second time around, I didn't want to pay again. I found another doula who had never been to a birth. This time my husband and I knew more what we were doing. I told her I would instruct her on what I wanted her to do and she was fine with that and it was just what I needed. The labor was much shorter. The best thing you can do for yourself is increase your own self confidence. I did this by reading the hypnobirthing book and listening to the CDs. And it's true, or at least it was for me- you just need a kind and nurturing and intuitive person there, that is more important than tons of experience. There are many doulas out there who will charge low fees in exchange for the experience."
"IMO, a doula is not something you want to cheap out on. If you're spending less than $1200 you aren't going to get the level of experience and support you are probably looking for. Perhaps go with an experienced doula instead of a private room or other "extra" (packing less of your own stuff in your hospital bag and using the hospital's toiletries and gowns will probably save $100 alone). Or pay for extra birth coaching classes for your partner/support person to take, because the emotional support component that a good doula provides cannot be replaced by an inexperienced doula, but can be provided by a partner/mother/sibling/good friend/etc.
During both of my children's births, my doula was essential. Without her, my older child's birth would have probably been a very bad memory because my OB ended up being a complete narcissistic a**hole. Her being there and providing emotional support was priceless. It felt like my doula and the nurses worked very well together and luckily my OB wasn't around for two long because the birth was fast.
At my second birth (different OB!) I ended up having to have a c-section and, although I'm not too squeamish around medical environments, knives, blood, etc. I felt overwhelmed once I walked into the OR and had to get on the table. Believe it or not, my doula calming me down was actually more useful than her coaching me through natural birth for the first child. Since she was experienced she also warned me about ways to reduce the chances of vomiting during the c-section, which was so great because I have a phobia with vomiting.
A professional doula will have a contract specifying the time they will spend with you before, during, and after the birth. Get everything in writing. Check three references and then ask those references for who referenced them and talk to those people as well. Also check Yelp and the PSP review page.
Even the "rockstar" ones have sliding payment scales, so it doesn't hurt to call and ask."
"This is an interesting thread. One factor that you might want to consider is who is delivering your baby. We had a less experienced, but affordable and very nice, doula at the birth of our second child. And both times our midwives stayed with me the whole time and were great coaches and support. I can't imagine them being better. My first labor was about 20 hours so this was no small feat. Honestly I don't know why we got the doula the second time except I think I wanted a bigger team. It didn't add much since the midwives did everything. I get the sense that if you have an OB they are delivery only and you would want a doula who has some good experience for labor."
"Review your contract carefully as I should have hired a doula who would move more hours to post-partum when we found out we’d have a planned c-section. This was on me as her contract was very clear."
I used a doula for my first baby, and it was great. I really appreciated the support she offered-- before, during, and also after birth."
"I had a very good experience with our doula for #1 and we’ve gone ahead and hired her for #2. She had a ton of experience (which I would also recommend looking for) and provided great support for not only myself but my very panicked husband. We took multiple birthing classes and it was amazing how during the actual event we managed to forget everything until she joined us (we were trapped in triage without her for 2.5 hours). She was also super helpful the first few days when we were at home. We had some initial nursing issues and she was able to provide fantastic support."
"I would say interview a few doulas, birthing is really intimate and you want someone around you are really comfortable with.
She provided us with a lot of support beforehand and really let us dictate the help we wanted. She helped us walk through all the steps of getting to the hospital, who we wanted in the room, suggestions for what to bring...etc.
I would say the moment she really paid for herself was when my parents wouldn’t leave the room. I kept suggesting they get lunch to get them to leave. They left to grab a snack and our doula asked me if I wanted them back in the room, I said no. She scooped up all of their stuff and brought it out to them and very diplomatically told them she would come get them if I needed them. I was so relieved!
In the end I labored for 30 hours, it was helpful to have someone else on hand so my husband could rest if he needed to. I had an emergency c-section and she explained to me what I could expect and asked me what I wanted from the doctors, continually advocating for me. She stayed with our stuff and helped get us to our room post surgery. She also helped me get our son to latch right away in the recovery room. She also organized my family visiting the recovery room one at a time so neither my husband or I had to be the “bad guy” with them. My family loved her and had no idea they were being handled the entire time.
We have stayed in contact since our first birth and am so happy to have her back for this next birth! You should do what you think will make you the most comfortable."
"I had a doula for my first birth and decided to hire one again for the second time. She was invaluable for several reasons:
-provided some insight as I weighed my options as I decided to switch to home birth since I had some anxiety and uncertainty around hospitals during covid
-helped me emotionally cope with going past due and having some prodromal labor (more common with subsequent babies)
-supported me through a faster, but more intense labor. My husband knew what to do this time, but having an extra set of hands was still useful
-checked in many times post partum to ensure breastfeeding was going well
-gave tips and reassurance on adding another baby to the family and made sure my older daughter was adjusting"
"I had a doula for my second labor and was so happy that I did. The doula we used for my first birth wasn't available - I literally emailed her the moment after I told my husband of my positive test result! - but she helped us find my next doula.
Even though I had given birth before, I really appreciated having a person there who was only focused on me and what I needed. My husband is fantastic, but also got overwhelmed again. I was at a different hospital and with a different doctor, as well, so that all felt new. My labors are short and intense; my second labor was so different. Having my doula be there to help me weigh options (should I get my water broken? Should I push back on a foley balloon?) that I hadn't dealt with before was also helpful. She was also the only way I could get through the contractions."
"I’d add that one thing that gave me great comfort the second time around was knowing our doula could stay behind with my first child in case our on-call childcare wasn’t able to come fast enough (second borns sometimes arrive faster). I also loved that she was hardcore about calling the hospital and making sure they knew it was a second baby so they admitted me straightaway (again bc sometimes seconds can come quickly). It was nice to have an advocate and someone who could really take charge in addition to all the warmth and supportive encouragement."
“I just wanted to add that doulas are not just for the birth itself. I am a postpartum doula (and lactation counselor) who works with families immediately after the birth to help them transition emotionally, physically and logistically to their new reality. I constantly hear in my work from those new moms who hired labor doulas but not postpartum doulas that they wish they had made the reverse decision, knowing ( in retrospect) how short the labor and delivery is and how long the process of really blossoming into parenthood takes (and how much support it requires).”
“I think having a postpartum doula is an awesome idea. For so many generations before us (as I'm sure you know) family, neighbors, village, older children, etc. could help with life-soon-after-baby. I think that kind of support makes a huge difference in postpartum recovery. And I think the amount of energy and time required for recovery can really be underestimated by many. (I underestimated it for myself, although I know everyone is different.)”
"We had a post partum doula with my first and it was really helpful! We had her come immediately after delivery so she helped with breastfeeding, giving my son his first bath, and gave a lot of advice on soothing him and creating a schedule for myself once my husband returned to work and I was still on leave. Happy to send you her contact info - she was awesome. Very knowledgeable and also non judgmental.
We decided against a baby nurse since with breastfeeding I felt like I still had to be available for that and didn't feel like a baby nurse would be that helpful but some people really like the help and support they provide."
"We had a Doula and we found her very helpful before, during and after."
"If I were choosing between a doula and help afterwards, I'd definitely choose help afterwards (but I haven't had a doula!) Since you've given birth before you also likely know what to expect more than I did. I think you'll know ahead of time if you're a good candidate for a vaginal delivery and can plan accordingly for support - I also didn't have a sense of the timeline and the info I'd receive."
“Had my husband there for baby 1 and that is all I needed. Had a natural birth in a hospital and it turns out, he was totally capable of supporting me through immense physical pain (already knew he could support me through emotional pain when my mom died). If your partner feels like he/she can support you then trust him/her on that. I think doulas can make the partner feel insufficient. I needed to look into his eyes when it really hurt and I needed to have him tell me I was doing great. I heard no one else at that time - just him. I labored at home just fine and he was able to advocate for me in the hospital (not rocket science). It was pretty amazing to just go through it together, can't imagine having someone else there. It would have felt strange and not right- he's always been my support and he wanted to be the one for me. We never considered a doula. To each her own!”
“We are not using a doula as of now. We're going with a midwifery practice and we got the sense that we wouldn't necessarily need one. My husband already has two kids so I'm hoping his experience in this regard will come in handy!”
“I didn't have a doula with my first. I had a midwife who had the same birth "plan" as me and a very helpful husband who could handle it. I'd think a doula would be helpful if you don't think you can communicate well with your doc and need an advocate, your husband might not be able to suggest poses or help with labor, or you just want another person around to support you. Whatever makes you feel most at ease is the best course of action. The more open and relaxed you are, the better the experience will be.”
“My husband and I felt that a doula would make for too many cooks in the kitchen.”
“We're on the fence about a doula as well... On one hand, my neighbor said it was great to have someone there who could explain things while she was laboring and freed up her husband to be more of an emotional support, instead of running interference with the medical staff. On the other, there's the extra cost + introducing another person into the room. In the end I think whatever you decide will be the best for you.”
“My husband and I have decided to not hire a doula for a few personal reasons. While we both completely respect others' having one present, we feel that this is an experience for us to share between the two of us (and of course the doctors and nurses and whoever else is already needed in the delivery room). Hiring a doula felt like interference to us- just a gut feeling we had. Additionally, while I have been lucky to be having a very routine pregnancy so far, I do have a medical history which may lead to a c-section. I would prefer a vaginal birth, but I am very comfortable letting my OB dictate what is best for me as delivery approaches…”
"We skipped having a doula because where and when we gave birth (at St. Luke's Roosevelt) I was told that twins will be born in the OR due to high risk of c-section and only 1 person was allowed in there with me...and that was for sure going to be my husband. My husband and I took birthing classes and he did some reading on his own to make sure he could be supportive. This was over 3 years ago so not sure if things have changed but I didn't have a c-section despite them calling for a c-section kit after I delivered my son vaginally. One of the doctors in the OR with us told me that I had one last chance to push while they prepped the kit and I did NOT want to be one of those 2-for-1 moms so I beared down and gave it all I got...daughter came out! No NICU for us either and we ended up only about 4 weeks early so overall a really good birth experience. I was glad we invested the money in educating ourselves and getting support in other ways. While my friends with Doulas had amazing experiences, I think we made the right call for our family."
"We had our twins born via c-section. I had a fantastic OBGYN associated with Weill Cornell/NY Presbyterian Hospital, and I can honestly say that the whole experience was warm, caring and overall, wonderful. My kids were born a month early but completely healthy. They didn’t spend any time in NICU. When I was discharged, I walked out of the hospital, rather than being wheeled out in a chair. I didn’t feel that I needed a doula at all, but I also have a very supportive husband. If you trust your doctor (who better can advise you on any medical decision besides the person with extensive training and experience?), and your partner is there for you during the delivery (only 1 person is allowed in the OR for a c-section), your money is better spent by hiring a post-partum doula. This is when we really needed help."
We considered having a birth doula for our twins but decided against it. We knew at 26 weeks that the odds were largely against having a vaginal delivery and my OB, whom I trusted explicitly, rightly suggested I use the money for post Partum doulas. I made it to my scheduled c-section date at 38 weeks and I am thankful that I had the extra care/help when I got home. My OB and my wife were the best support team I could have asked for during the delivery and in the hospital. If I thought I might have a labored delivery or chance if vaginal birth I would have probably considered it more. Good luck."
"I am going to be an outlier here - but we hired a doula for #1 and it ended up being a huge waste of money. She didnt stay with me all of labor, I ended up getting an epidural and then she missed the birth. In retrospect, I think I'm happy it was just my husband and me for the birth of our daughter, but I'm very private. So, we are not going with a doula again for #2.
However, I know many people that had lovely experiences with their doulas! I'm sure most are great. But after BTDT we could have 100% done it without one."
"For my first, I used a cheaper doula who didn't have experience and it was a bad idea. I suggest getting somebody highly recommended with experience who might be expensive, or just not using a doula. It's a profession that takes time to learn. So many varied experiences and learning over time how to let the couple lead is important. Using a doula is my only regret from my first birth."
My husband and I just interviewed doulas, picked one we liked, and even negotiated on a more reasonable price. Now that her contract is waiting in my in box for us to sign I’m having second thoughts.
The pre-baby bills are starting to mount up (even with getting a million free things from PSP), and using the doula is just going to put us even further into debt.
I do love what they offer - help formulating a birth plan, birthing education beyond our birthing class, labor support (obviously), and a postpartum visit with lactation support, but I’ve noticed that I can get a lot of those things for free from websites, apps, books, and insurance (just learned that my insurance will cover a lactation “course” from aeroflow). Plus I plan to get an epidural, and I will have my husband (as inexperienced as we both are with this) with me for support.
I’d love some other perspectives.
“I absolutely felt that hiring a doula was worth the expense, especially given that you plan to give birth in a hospital and get an epidural. Your doula can help support you to labor up until the point where an epidural is most effective which isn’t until 6-7cm. Once the epidural has taken effect, it’s important to continue to incorporate movement and position changes. Your nurse may or may not be helpful with this and there’s no way to know for sure until you’re in it. Most importantly, having a doula means there is someone who is giving you continuous care and is there with the intention of supporting your wishes, who works for you and not the hospital. My doula for my first baby (who we have hired again for the second) was with us continuously for over 30 hours. Some of our first words after she left were, “damn she was amazing!” We still call her the MVP of our birth and are excited to work with her again.
I also have friends who have had meh experiences with their doulas, so I really believe it’s all about the chemistry. Perhaps your second thoughts could be due to the vibe not being quite right? Just some food for thought. It’s worth mentioning that even in those cases, they still felt their doula had done things that ultimately helped them have great births (namely encouraging them to change providers to someone they were more aligned with). Doulas work all over the city at many hospitals and with many providers and they have seen the good and the bad. A good doula’s perspective on your choice of provider can be invaluable.
I hope that helps and best of luck!”
“I was in the same boat as you with my first. The prenatal classes and having a person 24/7 on the line was nice but I really feel the difference during labor.
The nurses are BUSY! They are in and out and as nice as they were, they don’t always explain what’s going on in the clearest manner (or they just can’t and don’t want to tell you the possibility of something). It was so nice to have the doula there to explain what’s going on and our potential options. Our doula worked really well with the hospital staff and created a very nice atmosphere in the L&D room.
Our doula, in my opinion, made a couple key suggestions to the staff that lead me to . After the baby came out, everyone is tending to the baby and she keeps her attention on me. Cleaning me up constantly which made me not feel like a total mess.
I’m super pro-doula and wish our health care system covers them.”
“It really depends on what your goals are for working with a doula, but as a general principle I would highly recommend it. We are first time parents (our daughter was born June 3) and I can honestly say that everything about the final trimester, labor, delivery, and even the last few days postpartum have been improved by our doula. I had so many conversations with her preparing for birth that went way beyond the “birth plan” element in terms of what interventions I wanted, etc, and actually got to underlying values and needs. It was like having a pregnancy-specific therapist, which helped me in thinking about the cost. Also, I had no idea how quickly and how direly I would end up needing lactation help, and classes would not have cut it. One on one support for breastfeeding is worth it on its own, let alone on top of all the other services you get from a doula. I totally understand about the expense and obviously you have to balance your family’s financial priorities but if it’s feasible then yes, 100% worth it.”
“My two cents - yes, for your first especially, they're worth it. I thought of it like insurance - you might need it, you might not (if everything goes smoothly and exactly to plan). I also planned to get an epidural but also wanted to labor without one as long as possible because I was very concerned about it slowing down labor and ultimately having to get a C-section (not so bad but for me something I really wanted to avoid). So our doula was helpful for this. Also, my epidural didn't work at first so she was helpful in working through that, helping progress labor even while on an epidural (vs just lying there), and ultimately getting us through what was a very long labor. But again, it was insurance and it may not have been as necessary but I wouldn't have considered a loss.
That being said, there are doulas with a wide range of experience and their rates vary accordingly, so you might consider someone with less experience if you want a cheaper price point.
The other services they offer beyond labor support were lower priorities to me.”
“I also had an epidural but had a very challenging birth that went way beyond issues of pain management (it turns out that’s the easy part!). Things went wrong beyond our control and it felt like no one was talking to me, listening to me - when you are in labor you stop being the patient and start being a vessel for baby to come out of. I had a very healthy pregnancy and was shocked to have a challenging birth. Ultimately my daughter was taken for monitoring right after she was born and, under duress and unsure where to be, my husband went with her. Without our doula I would have been alone with no one telling me what was going on with the baby. When I think back to those two hours, the longest of my life, her presence was worth any cost. She was my only connection to the infant monitoring room and also helped take care of me so I could be brought to recovery sooner and reunited with my daughter.
The reality is, your OB has competing priorities no matter how great they are. Bed count, other emergencies on the floor, billing structures, liability. These factors can influence recommendations/ pressure to expedite your labor, have a c section, etc. Regardless of if you want the intervention or not, having some there to force a pause so YOU can decide can give you a lot more control.
All that to say - it’s a very personal decision but for me it was worth it. I was on the fence but now can’t imagine giving birth without a doula.”
“I had my daughter almost 15 years ago when all of these Internet- and app-based options weren’t so much of a thing. So my experience is in no way comparable to yours. What I will say, though, is that what a doula will give that these other options won’t is a relationship built on trust and your doula’s investment in your pregnancy, birth experience, and baby. When I went into the birthing center to be induced, I had every intention of having my doula coach me through the birthing experience. Instead, I had to have an emergency C-section. My doula was out of a job—but she grabbed a camera and took a series of unfreakingbelievable pictures of my daughter being pulled out of my body and her first seconds of life outside the womb. She continued to be a part of our lives for the baby’s first month. Oh, and while we were waiting around for my contractions to begin (before we knew there’d be that C-section), she made a family of origami cranes—a mama, a papa, and a baby—that still hangs in my daughter’s bedroom. Yes, we paid her for what amounted to not much work, but I cherish the brief relationship we had with her and the special gifts her presence brought to that time. She brought her own brand of serenity, groundedness, and joy to an experience that was already joyful. No app can give you that.
On the other hand, you might get a very impersonal business-like doula who doesn’t give you anything like that. I think it depends on the person, and your own vibe with her.”
“Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for free doula services through the city. An important service through DOHMH!”
“From someone who had a complicated 30+hr induction that ended in a C-section I can safely say it was an incredible investment. My husband who was very skeptical of hiring a doula, but deferred to me, said she would have been worth 3x the cost. I hired our amazing doula for my current pregnancy which will likely end in another C-section. Honestly I just wanted her on board in case things get complicated! The support is hard to match.
I hope you figure out what's right for your family!”
“My daughter is 5.5 so it has been a bit since my doula experience but I will say what I thought was very worth it was having someone to be there so my husband could rest. I was induced early in the morning so I knew when we were going in....I didn't take the epidural until late in the game, so she was with me while I was bouncing on the yoga ball and giving me massages. It helped a lot ! I was happy that my husband could rest because I knew I would really need him later.
She also was there helping him while I was pushing -- it is great to have another person on that "end" of things and to serve has a helper to my husband and I was able to get my needs met and not feel frustrated with him!
That said, you don't really know how things will go down or what you will need or how fast the birth will go so it is a gamble as to if it will be "worth it" financially.
I guess, overall the thought is that having someone there who's job is only focus on you and your needs can take a lot of pressure off and allow you to enjoy the experience a bit more -- it is such a vulnerable time!
Come to think of it, where I cut corners was sharing a room rather than getting a private room...and looking back I think that while it was a bit of a challenge, it was the better expense to let go of than the doula.
Good luck to you, whatever your decision!”
“Hi there – I think it’s a really good thing to think about! As a first time mom, I chose to have a Doula and while the women were lovely, I personally thought it was a huge waste of money. I wish I had those thousands of dollars back that I could’ve used for a night nurse / postpartum Doula combo, which is what I did with my second.
I was definitely planning on an epidural, and then out of the blue I had a premature delivery. Even though I called the Doula team and one of them rushed over, she basically didn’t make it until the end and she was fresh off the subway and sort of a mess. So while she was super lovely, I was really annoyed having that extra person in the room. It was a distraction that I wasn’t in the mood for. So the second time around kept it just to my husband and I, and I felt way more comfortable.
I think there are benefits of having a Doula: If you’re not the kind of person that is comfortable advocating for yourself with hospital staff, if you might not have a partner with you or any type of support person, if you plan on natural childbirth and could use some coaching help… there is a use case and it’s a wonderful service. But
for me, the postpartum help was way more useful. Especially with an older child at home. Also, I don’t know where you’re delivering, but I was at Mount Sinai east, and the staff was amazing and lovely and very attentive, so it was just one more body getting in the way.
All the best! I don’t think you can make a wrong decision, so I wouldn’t stress it too much and just go with your gut.”
“I did not have a birthing doula, but did use one postpartum and a night nurse/baby nurse for 10 nights (weeks 2-3.5). Financially, it was an either or for us: spending resources on birthing support or newborn support, we went with newborn support and have no regrets.
I found the postpartum doula so incredibly helpful in navigating feelings, helping my husband and I navigate being first time parents, and provide some newborn care and being an extra set of hands without any of the baggage or guilt that a family member or friend could bring into the mix. The Doula supports you. That said I think we paid for more hours than we actually needed or used, but she really just brought anxiety levels waaaay down.
We also ended up doing 10 days of a night nurse, which was AMAZING. I felt confused by the idea at first but a friend convinced me that having someone do the 8pm-8am soothing and swaddling and diaper changes (even if you get up to nurse) would be worth it, and it was.
I have no regrets about these expenses, and, although my birth experience wasn’t ideal, I felt prepared enough from a Tribeca pediatrics birthing class and one provided by my hospital. I ended up being induced because of complications that turned into a c-section, and I don’t think a doula would have made that experience much different, although maybe a little bit more reassuring.”
“I had one for my first birth and encourage all my friends and family to get one for their first birth. Everyone who got one said they felt so much better having one. I think it is well worth the expense for your first child for sure.”
“I wanted to respond specifically to touch on the free resources that you mention, but I’ll start with the caveat that my answer is colored by my own experience with a doula, which was incredibly positive. I was also lucky enough to be able to afford her without worrying about it (and for full transparency, I paid $2000. It would have been $2500, but she charged less because I delivered with a midwife group she worked with a lot). I’m probably on the far end of the spectrum In terms of positive experiences, but I actually ended up feeling like I got a bargain!
In my experience, the personalized education and support a doula can offer are miles apart from what you get even from the best free resources or even paid classes. I read a bunch of books and took a childbirth class, but my doula spent the better part of a day talking through every aspect of labor with me and my husband, in a way that I found much more concrete and grounding. I went into labor with an enormous amount of confidence that I don’t think I’d have had otherwise.
Also for what it’s worth, my ability to think and make decisions totally evaporated during labor, and I really leaned on her to make suggestions. She kept things moving in a way my husband couldn’t have and my nurse wouldn’t have.
Postpartum I actually had a pretty easy breastfeeding experience in the end, but still felt completely lost and overwhelmed in the first few days. I researched obsessively and watched video after video about getting a good latch and still felt like I had no idea what I was doing, or if I should be worried. The advice was quite cookie cutter, with little room for nuance or human variability. Knowing I had a postpartum visit with my doula on the calendar really saved me then, and having a real person look at what I was doing and give advice was way more helpful than any of the info I found online. She also would have been able to recommend a great lactation consultant, and save me the search, if I had needed it. I really think that anyone who wants to breastfeed can benefit from hands on advice from someone kind and knowledgeable, which you may or may not get at the hospital.”
“Hi! We hired a doula for the birth of our April 2020 baby and she helped us put together a birth plan and then when Covid hit she told us that she couldn’t join us in the hospital. My husband (who is not great with medical procedures) took her role and did a great job. In the end we really didn’t need her. As you said, most of the info is on the internet and if you’re having an epidural (I did too) there’s not much for her to coach you through. For our second child we didn’t hire a doula at all. I’m also the type to follow the doctors suggestions (and half of my birth plan went out the window) so I didn’t need much guidance from our doula.”
“This article on the evidence for doulas might be a useful read:
“I hired a post-partum doula for my twin delivery, and I can honestly say that the expense was absolutely not worth it. I was debating if I even should post this, but the fact that hiring a doula might be a financial burden for you (It was for us!), convinced me that perhaps, considering a different perspective might be worth it.
I didn’t feel that I needed a doula during delivery since I had a scheduled C-section (that ended being not entirely scheduled, as the babies had to be delivered 2 weeks early). The reason I didn’t plan on having a doula during delivery is because I had an amazing OB, who I completely trusted. I had a relationship with this OB for 2 years, and she gave me her cell number to make sure that I have access to her, in case things do not go as planned. I was very well-informed about the entire process/C-section and had a full support from my partner. We do not have any family members in NYC, and at the time of my delivery, all of our friends already moved out of the city. The delivery happened pretty much exactly how I expected, and at no point during the C-section or my very quick stay at the hospital, I felt I needed/would had benefited from the help of a doula. The delivery team I had, my OB, the anesthesiologist, and all the nurses, were fantastic. I received great after care at the hospital. I delivered at the NY Presbyterian/Weil Cornell on the UES.
The doula we hired for post-partum care came highly recommended from a family on PSP, and I still see great reviews about her once in a while. However, I didn’t feel that she was actually that helpful. The information she provided about baby wearing, feeding, etc..., all important first weeks milestones, was easily available on-line, through parent classes and books I already had read. Also, our pediatrician at the Tribeca Pediatrics was very informative, supportive, and available. During the interviewing process, I made it very clear to our doula that while I will try my best to breastfeed, we are definitely open to supplementing breastmilk with formula, and the most important thing for me and us, as a family, is to be available and present for our children (and enjoy these special moments) without loosing sanity over breastfeeding (since we were taking care of two babies, with no help from family/friends). While, she said she understood, she kept ‘pushing’ breast-feeding very hard, even during the days when I was completely sleep deprived, and, I remember looking forward to the time when out contract is over. I actually think that the overall transition for us, would be smoother and easier without this person being in our house. We ended up hiring a lactation consultant who was super helpful, understanding of our circumstances without any judgement or preconceived ideas. She said that I can follow her advise trying to increase my milk production, but supplementing with formula is just fine, and my babies will thrive regardless. They just turned seven, and they’ve been always very healthy kids.
I believe in hindsight, knowing what I know, that the help of a trained night nurse, would’ve been a much better fit for us and and money well-spent. Another option, might be a mother’s/parent’s helper. Somebody, who comes to your house and you can direct this person to perform very specific tasks for you: shopping, light cooking, holding baby (if you need rest/take shower, etc), cleaning, organizing laundry.
Overall, I had a very uneventful pregnancy, and the delivery went exactly like we were hoping for it would go. However, my husband and I were prepared for worst case scenarios, and we were very well-informed about every aspect of delivery and first months of baby’s life. Also, we are very independent and have been living on our own since finishing high school. Perhaps these factors made the transition to parenthood ‘easier' for us. We expected that it will be VERY difficult, and we were mentally prepared (as much as you can prepare for something like this, :)).”
“I also debated hiring a doula but opted not to, and was very happy with my choice. My husband and I did a lot of prep for labor; read books (The Birth Partner was fantastic) and took an online class with a doula so we would have tools for coping, but ultimately I thought another person with us for delivery would be overwhelming and potentially redundant.
My labor and delivery turned out to be quite fast—nine hours total and only five in the hospital, where I got an epidural as quickly as possible once I arrived. I had been hoping to avoid an epidural but opted for one because my contractions were already so intense, and perhaps a doula would have had coping mechanisms that could have carried me through without the drugs. That said, I am skeptical of that because of the intensity of what I was feeling and have absolutely no regrets with the epidural. Once I could reflect on my labor I was still very happy we hadn’t hired a doula as I think there wouldn’t have been real opportunities for her to add value.
I have heard multiple stories from friends and strangers about how helpful a doula was even during an epidural and so give you my labor as context—perhaps I would feel differently if it had been a longer process. Your decision might also hinge on how important aspects of your birth plan are to you vs. going with the flow. But when I was researching this same choice, I had a hard time finding stories of people who decided against a doula so wanted to share my experience.”
“I had a doula for my first and it was absolutely worth it to me. I also had an epidural for pain management and my husband with me. In addition to the services you outlined, the doula was my advocate. She was able to walk me through the choices that had to be made while I was in labor. And she helped me communicate those choices, while I was in immense pain, to the medical team.
She also was on hand to be a photographer of the first few moments with the baby. Something my husband couldn’t do because he was taking care of me. I’ll treasure these photos forever.
It can be pricey of course. But it was worth the investment for me to have a good non-traumatic birthing experience.
Also, if this will really put you into debt, you can also find a doula in training. Doulas have to do a few births before they get their certificate. So some will do the work of a doula for free as a part of their training.”
“When things go "well," a doula is an amazing addition to the birth team. With our first child--a completely natural vaginal birth with no interventions--the doula was truly a calming helpful presence before (on our way to NYU from Park Slope in a car service) and during the birth. She stayed with us a bit afterwards too but left probably about two hours after the baby was delivered.
With our second child, however, I started laboring naturally and doula came to our apartment but within about two hours of arriving at the hospital discovered I had to have an emergency C-section due to a uterine fibroid that had calcified and blocked part of the birth canal. As soon as we found out that we had to go the surgery route that night, the doula became more of a glorified assistant to my husband since there was little she could do for me at that point and it was made fairly clear that the surgeon and the other medical personnel were "first seat." And, of course, we still had to pay the same amount of fee for what amounted to about three hours of work total. We ended up saying she could leave once I went into the operating room since it was the middle of the night.
Knowing what I know now, I'm honestly not sure I would get a doula again but her presence during birth #1 was a net positive overall.”
“I know a few people who hired doulas but decided it wasn’t necessary for me. Things went well and I don’t regret my decision at all! I had a natural vaginal birth in July 2021 at NYU Langone in Manhattan with an epidural (which I also knew I definitely wanted ahead of time). The nurses and doctors were great, I made a playlist to listen to during labor (would highly recommend!), and it was super easy for my husband to help (he held one of my legs for most of the time and basically just followed the nurses’ instructions). We also took childbirth and related classes ahead of time, which I felt were sufficient to prepare us for the L&D process. I honestly don’t think having another person in the room would have improved or enhanced my experience.
That being said, I DO wish I had hired a postpartum doula, mainly to help with the whole breastfeeding process/pumping/etc. For me, that was the hard part!!! I hired one lactation consultant after issues arose and while she was mostly helpful (aside from recommending a tongue tie that my ped said wasn’t necessary - and it def wasn’t!), I would have preferred having a postpartum doula from the outset to make sure I was doing things right etc. I am actually thinking of hiring one for my second baby due next month.”
“Offering a perspective as someone who didn’t hire a doula for my first birth, mostly because it was early in the pandemic and it wasn’t an option: I think it very much comes down to your birth plan preferences, what sort of setup sounds most reassuring/supportive to you and your partner, and how your relationship is with your existing OB/midwife/caregivers (and whether they are receptive and supportive to the broad strokes of your existing birth plan).
In situations where you’ve got clear birth preferences; if you do best with continual care and support; if your partner would appreciate some experienced guidance (or doesn’t do well with the inevitable blood and guts of the manoeuvre); or if you’re a member of a high-risk population and especially a Black birthing parent, then doulas are invaluable and very often lifesaving.
As it was, no doula worked out well for us, which is a privilege in and of itself. We had a profoundly good and communicative OB team through my induction; my husband — empowered by them, but also generally — was steadfast and wholly unfazed by the mechanics of it all; and I strongly preferred having some private time and space to myself/with him. There was no shortage of people in the delivery room at the critical moments.
We are expecting our second in October and suffice to say aren’t planning to partner with a doula — I’ve the same OB (and same husband). That said, having read lots of the comments you’ve received back, the sound of a postpartum doula with lactation support strikes me as as a wonderful thing, especially the first time round (but also 2nd/3rd/nth).
There is no one “right/good/best” way to give birth but if you can and have the means and privilege to create an environment (with or without a doula) where you feel centred and cared for before/during/after and you really trust your team, then you’ll be in the best position you can through a transformative experience.”
“We did not use a doula for either of our children. My sense was that while birthing was certainly not her favorite experience, having another person involved could not have helped. She had me there and I was able to advocate for anything she needed (which, in her words, I think would be "DRUGS! GIVE ME ALL THE DRUGS!").
If there was anything we could have done differently we would have ponied up for a night nurse for the first 2-3mo post-partum. We were both extremely sleep deprived during this time (her moreso than me) and having someone to help with soothing would have made this period of our lives much happier.”
“I hired a doula for my first pregnancy last year, but have mixed feelings about hiring one should I get pregnant again. I had an emergency unscheduled c-section at 35 weeks and didn't actually meet with my doula prior to my hospital admission and birth. This was partially my fault - the doula had said our first meeting would be ~37 weeks, and I guess I should have pushed for something earlier (although I had no idea I'd be giving birth so early!). Since I'd already paid, my doula ended up coming over post-partum and cooking me food, which was lovely but I could have easily hired someone else to do that for much less $$.
I should add that the doula did come to the hospital once I was admitted, and my husband found her helpful at talking him through his stress before I went in for the c-section. I was too out of it to remember much.”
“I had my first without a doula for reasons similar to yours. My.epidural didn't take, which wasn't even the worst part.of the experience. Because of the unexpected and because having a baby in NYC and the US feels like being put on a conveyor belt, I had a doula the second time, who proved absolutely critical to a "good" birth experience. It's my most important recommendation to friends having babies, if you can swing it.”
“I am very glad I had a doula. I got one based on the recommendation of a co-worker who had had 2 kids, but wishes she’d had one for her first birth. She panicked and made decisions based on that rather than having someone with her telling her what was normal (and what isn’t). Also I had midwives (no doctor) and I asked them if it was worth it, they all said (it’s a practice of 3 woman) the doula is the only person in the room who’s there for you (birth mom) midwives/doctors/nurses and even partner husband to most extent is there for the baby. The doulas purpose is to be there for you and focus solely on you.
it also seemed expensive and potentially not worth it. We found someone with less experience (but who I still felt comfortable and confident in their experience) who fit out price range better. Because yes costs add up quickly.
looking back of some of the things I wish I had not spent money on, or done differently never once have I second guessed that cost. There’s a plethora of baby gadgets I never used or didn’t use much, that easily added up to what I ended up paying out doula.”
“We hired a doula for both our first and second births and I’ve never once felt like it was a waste of money. I’m high risk and didn’t know what to expect going into our first birth. My first labor ended up being about 25 hours long and our doula was there through to the end. She really helped take a lot of the stress off my me and my husband just by giving us the space to rest or go get a bite to eat or just talk about the decisions we had to make during labor. She rubbed my feet for hours to keep me comfortable and that alone was worth the price. My second labor ended up only being five hours long, which was a surprise after the first, but my doula was there holding space for us through it all and took some really priceless pictures of our son being born. I had a harder time breast feeding with my second and she had a lot of really helpful suggestions to guide me.
I think that the most important thing to keep in mind is the type of personality you want in the room with you at this incredibly stressful and personal moment. It you don’t think you want anyone intruding or guiding during labor maybe you just get a postpartum doula, but if you want someone to hold space for you during labor and to be an experienced sounding board for the decisions you might need to make, then a birth doula is a great idea.”
“I’ll offer one piece of advice that someone gave me that I found really valuable: the most important thing to look for in a doula is a personal connection, not years of experience or number of births attended. So if you’re hesitating in part because something feels *off*, it might be worth interviewing a few more doula candidates until you find someone you click with. More generally, I can say that I found having a doula incredibly helpful; she advocated for me when I was stuck in triage and really just needed to get into the labor and delivery room, and was such a reassuring and calming presence who helped me stay grounded and have a very positive birth experience. I’m not sure if you have an FSA, but if so it might be worth investigating whether you can get reimbursed for even a portion of the doula fee. My FSA allowed that, which helped relieve some of the financial burden.
No matter what direction you go in, the most important thing is that you feel confident and comfortable with your decision. :)”
“Sharing my perspective as well: I did not use a doula and don’t regret it because of the expense. Since you mentioned debt: As someone said, kids should be born college-age and then grow down: this way they will come with the real price tag upfront. (writing this while paying hundreds of dollars a week for tutors and after school activities-for elementary school age kids!)
If you expect a hospital birth, have some family and friends support, and read up on giving birth, a doula is nice (or maybe even great) but certainly not a must have. Also, I did not hope to have a perfect, life-changing, magical experience (which a doula can foster, with the extra attention and support) - just a regular life-changing and awe-inspiring one. Yes, despite my birth plan, my first baby was handed over to me despite my birth plan tightly wrapped in a blanket instead of being able to make his way and start nursing like the second baby right after birth. And yes, we were petrified the first night we got back from the hospital alone with our first, checking on him every half hour. But other than that, I personally view a doula in a similar vein as a personal trainer or a tutor: you can do well without one and should pay only when you have the means and/or really need one. A modern hospital birth, with the comforts of an epidural (a blessing if there ever was one) and the real choices basically deferred to doctors (neither you or the doula will counter the OB’s decision to get induced, or do a c-section), a doula seems mostly for support if you don’t have from family.”
“As others have said, your personal preferences and your budget are definitely a factor. My daughter was born Sept 2020 and we hired a doula who we ended up not using because of COVID and also feeling like we didn't need her because we took birthing classes etc.
It's hard to know in retrospect, but I ended up having an unplanned C-Section, and sometimes I do think things would have gone differently if my doula had been there.
Despite all the birth classes we took, I don't think my husband and I were prepared and were really on autopilot from the moment I went into labor. I think a doula would have been so helpful with the following:
- Coming over to labor at home / provide guidance on when to go to the hospital. I called my OB who literally kept me on the phone to see how long I stopped grunting between contractions to decide when I should go to hospital. We ended up arriving too early (I was not dilated enough), and the horrible OB on call at the time told me I either needed to go back home or get Pitocin. I think a Doula could have helped me labor more in the NYU garden area or advocate to get me admitted without drugs which I specifically did not want.
- The car ride to the hospital! My husband drove while i was having intense contractions and sat in the front seat with him. I think having a doula with me in the back seat would have been a much better (and safer) option.
- I did end up getting an epidural very soon after getting admitted, so not sure how much a doula could do there, but I know they can coach you into positions to help labor progress even with the epidural
- Post labor we did have our doula come and she was so helpful with breastfeeding, showing me how to use the pump etc. It was also great to just know I had an expert I could text that could help me out in the days following the birth.
Ultimately, a doula can be a great advocate for you, but as others have said, so much can happen outside of the birth plan. If you love your OB and you are at a hospital with good nurses, perhaps train your partner to really advocate on behalf of your birth plan and save the $$ for some postpartum care.
Boober.com is also a great resource and they have various tiers of doula pricing (I have seen some closer to $1K for doulas in training.)”
“After skimming through some of the responses, I want to echo that it really boils down to what kind of support you want. If you're feeling nervous/jittery and your husband is feeling similarly - or maybe you're unsure how "hands on" he will be during the birth, then it could be a big benefit! If money wasn't an issue: I'm pretty sure everyone would get a doula! Unfortunately, we too were in a similar boat. The only reason we didn't get a doula our first time is because our son arrived super early.
However: my doctor had a policy that we attend a childbirth class together prior to labor and the one class we went to before birth was super helpful. I also absolutely loved/trusted my doctor and I knew that my husband would be a big support (he is still very proud of having wet wipes readily available and "holding my poop" during labor. I'm sure you've already gone over these kinds of conversations with your husband but really get into it and discuss every possible scenario to assess where both of your comfort levels reside and if having a doula would be beneficial.
I didn't have a doula for either of my two births - at two different hospitals - with two different doctors - and one baby arriving 8 weeks early. I felt really cared for each time and if anything I was more grateful for the care/help I lined up *after* giving birth the second time around. The first time I had a harder time with recovery. The second time around we lined up a sibling doula - turned post-partum doula who ended up helping a ton with meal prep, some light cleaning, and dog walking. If (big IF) we have a third: I will double down on the post-partum care/support. For me personally - I am fine to lean on hospital nurses and I'd rather line up a house cleaner/dog walker/meal delivery service and a post-partum massage/acupuncture/etc. to really help me recover.
It's wild, you're not really going to know what you need ahead of time and it's this whole learning as you go experience - so think about what matters most to *you*, trust yourself, and then try not to overthink it. (I know, easier said than done.) :) “
“As one person mentioned, it depends on how much you like having other people around you in an already crowded space. I have been present at a number of my friends’ births and most of the time it was amazing. I brought my camera and took some amazing photos, did a food run for the partner when he was hungry, and comforted and talked to my friends through the births. I read through “the Birth Partner” books and had a few magic moves to help. It was an honor to be there, and didn’t cost them anything. (I did get kicked out of the birth room when I was in college because I just wasn’t helpful. So choose an “extra” carefully.)
There is a lot of knowledge a doula might have. Being trained as a doula gives you an extra bag of tricks you MIGHT need. However, I do think it's all in the chemistry of the folks involved (birthing person, doula, partner) – knowing as well that the chemistry can change once you go into labor. Make sure that the person is supportive of your partner (if you have one) because you don’t want your partner to feel overshadowed by the doula. Some partners will feel helpless enough during birth and after, so having a post partum doula helping without teaching both of you can start you down a road of your partner feeling “less than.”
I had a post-partum doula who wasn’t experience with helping me breastfeed. Many folks hire a lactation consultant anyway so I’m not sure paying extra for a post-partum doula with breastfeeding experience is worth it. In the end it seemed like a waste of money. This doula came for 4 hour stretches at a time and after a few hours didn’t have much to do (she did a bit of laundry and tidying). She made us a dinner from scratch but I can’t say it was worth the extra money to have her basically cook for me. Time the post-partum doula around other visitors or you’ll be managing extra people which is more work. Maybe even have a list of things that you want the post partum doula to do so they are busy.
I suppose what I’m saying is that there are options if you don’t go the doula route that can work. Having a doula is not for everyone. It can a big investment and may be a great one; just know that you can have a great birth without one.”
“I had a doula with both my births, partly because both times there were some factors that could have made me slightly higher risk but fortunately both were very uncomplicated births (and I did have the epidural and drugs to induce or speed up labor both times). I don't have a lot to add to what others have said in terms of the pros and cons: my doula helped a lot with emotional support, helping me understand and advocate for my needs and have a better, more empowered birth experience, such as how much epidural I actually needed and how early to get it, etc. (though I'm sure it would have been a safe birth either way) and especially with breastfeeding. Note: it was really helpful that my doula lived close enough to come over one evening for an emergency postpartum visit when I was really struggling early on with my baby's latch. You may want to find out how easily they're reachable in such situations postpartum, even by text/facetime.
The main thing I will add to what's already been said is that in both cases, I got some amazing birth photos from my doula that I will cherish forever. To this day I'm still grateful I have them as a way to remember/make tangible my births, even if some are too "graphic" to share publicly. If you can hire a doula who has some experience photographing births and includes it in their package, even if it's just photos with their phone (and if that's something you actually want, of course), it might help justify the cost.
We thankfully weren't at risk of going into debt because of it so I can't speak from that perspective...except that childcare in this area of Brooklyn is VERY expensive (unless you have family help, or one of you plans to stay home!) and might be the most important thing to save up for in the end!”
“We did a postpartum doula for 10 sessions and for us it was not worth the money. This person had good reviews and I liked during our initial discussion. If you use a doula, you probably use them best right away and that is what they seem to prefer. We had one partner returning to work earlier so we saved some sessions for when that person was back at work. We had issues booking times with the doula and did not feel like we learned much from having her. The conflict with the doula also created a lot of stress as she was not willing to be flexible with her schedule.
We have friends who highly recommended this since we do not have family in the area and no one was coming to help us with our baby. We would suggest booking fewer sessions and potentially adding if the person is a good fit rather than doing a larger package.
Night nurse, house cleaner, mother's helper might have been more helpful to us in the end. We would not hire one if we have future children.
We ended up needing a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC), while the doula was certified it was not to this level, so the lactation consultant was far more helpful than the doula. This along with a pelvic floor physical therapist were really the support system that I used (as the birthing parent).
It is hard to know what specifically you will need and we did not know that we need a lactation consultant and pelvic floor PT, but we were able to bill both through our insurance. Something to consider is if some of these other professionals might be needed since that will be an added expense (luckily for us it was just a copay).”
“Just adding to the minority of voices that did not hire a doula, I've had two births without and they both went well. Honestly it did not even occur to me the first time, probably because I wasn't a member of PSP or other mom groups back then and had not lived in Brooklyn long ;) When I asked my mother (born and bred American, 3 births) whether she had a doula at any of her deliveries she said "What's a doula?" It seems to be a modern, growing trend, especially in wealthier areas but I feel like too often doulas are talked about as a necessity rather than a privilege. (This is not a knock on doulas, they do great important work and I know many of them are incredible!)
Like other repliers I do not have family nearby either but my mom made it out here for baby #1 (she's a professional photographer, so also played that role!) and in the end it was her and my husband with me for the delivery, which is how I always envisioned it. It probably goes without saying that I did not have complicated pregnancies, nor any serious complications with the deliveries. Labor is always something of a gamble and I can definitely see how a doula would help if things go awry or if you have issues during pregnancy. In the end if you are someone who has your heart set on having a certain type of birth experience then a doula may be for you. But if you feel well supported by your partner, OB or midwife team, etc, you may be fine without. I would have definitely gone the postpartum doula or night nurse route if I was feeling spendy, since the newborn period is a crazy ride.”
“Clearly this is a hot button question! I’ll add my quick experience was lukewarm on the doula. I’m a private person and a control freak/very well informed. When I went through the “becoming a mother” moment those feelings codified and I clearly remember feeling like I was counting the hours until my doula was out of our hair. (We just had her for postpartum. )
I felt very confident about the delivering staff at my hospital (Cornell) as well as my ability to look a doctor in the face and say “no I am not going to accept pitocin right now, leave me alone”. My husband and I did some practicing on this and committed to relinquishing all people pleasing tendencies for the duration of our labor.
if I had to do again, I’d do the following:
1. Read that book Nurture with my partner and practice some of the techniques.
2. Read Essential Labor and learn about what medical practices are pushed and what that means and how to feel out what is right when.
3. Do a solid birthing class—the one at Wild was fine, honestly I felt I knew everything from obsessive scrolling for 9 mos—FWIW.
4. get a super short postpartum doula contract (3-4 sessions?) for some help with post partum body stuff, how to trim nails, do baths, soothe, and do an in-house check on BF, and two “hold the baby while we nap” moments.
5. spend the money on a regular house cleaner, delivery food, dog walker, etc.
If you’re this prepared, you’re going to do great—doula or no doula. There’s so freaking much I spent money on for this kid and the process that just didn’t come into play and I’ve had to make my peace with it.”
“You have received so many replies, I hope mine can be helpful too :) I hired doulas for my two births, hired postpartum doulas after my second birth (who were absolutely life saving). I also work as a birth and postpartum doula and attended 50 births and served many families during postpartum.
Doulas are all about emotional connection and also your birthing philosophy. If it was your first birth and you wanted to do unmedicated, I would say you definitely need a doula, and who knows Spinning Babies. HypnoBirthing is also super helpful for this.
If you worry about expense, then there is a chance that while looking at your doula in the birthing room you will think "was it worth it?" how much money will I owe after this?" This won't help establish emotional connection and might not end up worth it in the end.
Also, it might be helpful to think how critical for you that it is vaginal birth vs cesarean. A doula, who has knowledge of Spinning babies, who is open to come to your house and birth with you before you go to the hospital and help you go to 5cm before you take an epidural, can really increase your chances of vaginal birth (though no guarantees). What causes you more stress - thinking about spending those money or thinking about high risk of cesarean.
I hope you find your right answer. I paid much more than I could afford for my first doula and I still have a feeling of it not being worth it, though I ended up having an incredible birth and truly I know that it might have not been so amazing without my doula.
Also, if you happen to have trauma history, there are higher chances of PPD and PPA etc, so it might be worth saving money for postpartum support. It is very expensive but critical if the mother has a hard time during postpartum.
Good luck! No matter what you choose, it will be Your right choice.”
I hired doulas for each of my three births. The first birth I averted a c-section in a large part because of my doula. They are there for you, while the midwife/doctor is there for the baby. I needed her support to "keep going" after 40 hours of active, unmedicated labor.
The second birth was at home, and the doula helped me manage both pain and fear.
The third birth was at home, and I told the doula to stay home, since I knew I could do it, and for that birth I just didn't want another grownup to yell at (!).”
If you’re considering not hiring a doula because of the price, I urge you to hire a less expensive doula with limited experience. Experience isn’t as important as you might think. The presence of someone who is there to help you, hold space for you and be your advocate is invaluable. The difference between no doula and even a doula in training is huge. Good luck. You got this. :)
“I think doulas are completely optional and a luxury—if a woman wants one and can afford it, great, but it sounds like you may not want one. And that’s totally fine!
As you say, you can get the support in other places, inexpensively or for free. I found lactation support groups to be invaluable and went to them weekly for a while; I know there are many available in Brooklyn.
I’m a single mother by choice, had my sister and mother with me during the labor, happily had an epidural (and a lovely caring labor and delivery nurse), and then once I got home the baby work was all mine. You have a partner so I think you’ll do fine.”
“As others have said, it really depends on what you actually want the doula to do. If you are birthing in a hospital, possibly not knowing the delivery physician, and are wary of your/your partner's ability to advocate for your birth plan/ talk through unknowns on the fly, then sure, the right doula would be very helpful.
I had a homebirth with a nurse practitioner midwife that I trusted so much, and I had done so, so much research prior to labor that I didn't want another voice in the room. I also just literally didn't want another person there, it sounded like my worst nightmare (a question to ask yourself might be, do groups of people make your feel supported or make you feel stressed?)
My partner had heard from his friends (whose partners had also had homebirths) that they really loved having a doula present. One of them told my partner that the doula "even ordered sushi for us after the baby was born." I am sure these non-birthing partners had oversimplified the duties of their doulas, but I think I told my partner that if he didn't feel up to the task of ordering Seamless after I had gone through labor, then he was welcome to pay for his own doula.
In the end, I had a lightning fast labor (less than 3 hours from "hm, I think I'm in labor" to holding my baby). While trying to take care of me and also fill up the birthing tub, my partner yelled "this is why people hire a doula!" And while he is not entirely wrong, there's no telling whether a doula would have gotten to us in time (my midwife arrived 5 minutes after we called her, which was about 10 minutes before our baby was born). It probably goes without saying that I would not have made it to a hospital in time, had I desired a hospital birth.
This is all to say...be very clear on what your actual needs are, because you have no idea what kind of birth you may have (everyone told me the only scenario that wouldn't happen was a super fast labor with a first baby...and that was obviously wrong). Write out the major birth scenarios (early delivery, fast delivery, emergency c-section, etc) so that you have an awareness of them, and how you would like your Plan A, B, C, etc to unfold in those events. You may find that you don't desire a doula for birth support after all (and you can always hire postpartum help/lactation support after birth if you find that you need it).”
“And to briefly add on to others excellent advice, I had an invaluable doula. I was planning on giving birth in a birthing center with a midwife. In the end I gave birth alone, at home on the bathroom floor. Yes, it was that fast.
While not recommended to do it solo, my doula was the first to arrive on the scene after the EMTs.
She took the only photo I have of my newly born son and I in those first moments.
As a photographer, that was really important to me! She was my communications liaison with the midwife and my husband, as I had to go to the hospital with the EMT as standard procedure for an unplanned home birth. So you never know what you may need on the day...
Bonus, she cleaned the bathroom.”
“Just want to chime in bc I haven’t seen my experience shared here. The birth may not go as planned! We hired a doula duo and had only met one before the birth in a long virtual call where we discussed birth preferences. Baby came 3 weeks early!! We hadn’t met the doula who was on call that day until we met at the hospital. We were unprepared to give birth early and I’m really glad we had additional support. Here are just some of the things she did:
- Helped me pee and poop including supporting my body in various positions when I couldn’t get the pee/poop out and including holding a basin to catch it bc I need to pee standing up! (Unexpected)
- Energetically, dedicatedly fanned me for hours when I was hot
- I could squeeze her hand way harder than my partner’s hand
- She helped me labor so partner could get some sleep
- She held one leg and my wife held the other while I pushed (for 4 hours!). The nurse was NOT HELPFUL and was training another nurse. She literally did nothing to help me. If the doula wasn’t there… I don’t know what would have happened.
- Advocated for me to have fewer interventions from the awful nurse (like frequent and painful BP readings) and helped move my body when I needed (for better fetal monitoring)
- Brought me food against the rules
- Was a wise thoughtful person to text for advice pp so I didn’t need to rely on fb/google or even friends busy with their own kids. I think she made two pp visits and was on call via text for like 4 weeks.
These are mostly things I couldn’t have anticipated needing! And things that often required two people — not only my wife. I did a ton of research before labor (read The Birth Partner, Hypnobirthing, Fat Birth, Oster; took birthing classes; joined many online groups) but once you’re in it, the brain shuts off. My main point is you can’t know what kind of birth you’ll have in advance. Ideally you have no complications — or maybe you aren’t petrified of unplanned surgery (I am, and I wanted all the supports to avoid it). Having a professional there FOR ME and not the baby was hugely helpful and reassuring for me and my wife. Best of luck in your decision.”
“Hi - this may be an unpopular opinion, but I personally had a wonderful hospital birth experience without a doula and would not have benefited from one. My husband was by my side the whole time, my OB was very attentive, supportive, and deferential to my preferences, the nurses were AMAZING, and I quite literally can’t imagine what a doula would have added.”
FUTHER RESOURCES FROM AROUND THE WEB:
"I've spoken with a number of you about hiring a doula. I found this document very helpful when my husband and I were interviewing candidates, so I thought I'd share."