Choosing a Doula – An Interview with Louise

For this month’s blog post I interviewed my first client, Louise.  Louise was expecting her second child, Jasper, when she asked me to be her postpartum doula support.  I was interested to know why Louise had initiated having a doula second time round and I wanted to share her responses.  Having a doula can feel indulgent, and unnecessary, especially with the toxic messages across society that we should be able to do it all, with minimal support.  Hopefully this insight will support your decision to invest in yourself.


Thanks to Louise for giving these honest responses.


What did you know about doulas before exploring the idea of having one? 

I knew about doulas from our hypnobirthing course.  The first time around I did a lot of preparation into the birth and this was what I was most worried about. The second time around I did think about the birth but did a lot more planning and preparation for the postnatal period. I knew how hard it is! 


How did you choose your doula?

I wanted someone I felt comfortable with who had a similar ethos to me, Natalie was the obvious choice


Was your partner supportive of hiring a doula?

Yes very supportive. 


Why did you choose to have a doula second time round?

Because I found having my first child very challenging, and although we have two sets of very keen grandparents, they all live a long way away and so we didn’t have anyone to pop over and help me for a bit then leave again! The first time around I found the sleep deprivation and the anxiety about ‘doing the right thing’ hard to deal with and so wanted the option to have some sleep, even if at the time I found I didn’t need it, the knowledge that I could have some if I wanted made all the difference to my anxiety levels. I also wanted someone to bounce ideas off and who would want to talk to me about feeding, naps etc. My husband feigns interest, but he just said it was up to me. Having someone to discuss all that stuff with really helped. 


What was different second time round for you?

I knew the second time around I would need support so started looking into postnatal doulas as soon as I got pregnant. My birth was much easier the second time around (it was actually amazing – 1:30mins long and born in the bathroom at home before we had time to call anyone). This could have been down to in part the fact that I knew I would be very supported after the birth and was feeling very relaxed about it all. 


What helped your decision to have a doula? 

Knowing how I felt after my first birth, some days I felt Iike I was going crazy, I knew I needed the support. I also had a hard time with breastfeeding and found decision making around that very difficult, so it also helped to have someone to discuss that with. My husband was very supportive too as he knew how much I struggled and he was happier going to work knowing I had help. He also came home to a much happier wife which also made his life better! 


Did you have any concerns around having a doula? 

I was worried it was a very personal time to have someone in the house, especially in the immediate early days when I was healing and trying to breastfeed but Natalie put me at ease straight away. 


What practical support did you get?

When Jasper was born, although not part of the plan. Natalie was the first person I called.  My parents were on standby but over two hours away and I never imagined he would arrive that quickly.  I was very aware we had a sleeping three-year-old in the house and I would need someone to help with her.  Natalie had built up a great rapport with Ada and I knew Ada would feel safe with her.  


Natalie arrived within 15 minutes of the birth and was an invaluable support.  The paramedics who arrived were concerned about Jasper’s drop in temperature so wanted to put him on a heat mat.  Natalie reminded us about the benefits of skin to skin to regulate temperature and Jasper’s temperature recovered quickly when we did this.  She also made sure I concentrated on the first latch as she knew this was a problem the first time.  She was also familiar with our kitchen so was able to make me some tea and toast and take photos which I would never have remembered to do.  We were all in shock.  


So, although not planned I don’t know what we would have done without her.  We went off to hospital (which in hindsight I should have refused as it wasn’t necessary) and she took Ada to nursery for us so my husband could follow us to the hospital ASAP and I knew Ada would be safe and happy with Natalie.


During the postnatal visits Natalie would hold Jasper in the sling while I napped or had a bath or just lay on the bed on my own! She made sure I ate lunch and tidied up, as well as lending me various breast pumps and talking to me a lot about feeding, poo and sleep. 


Natalie brought over homemade soups, energy balls and other meals.  I cannot tell you how nice it was to have delicious home cooked meals and snacks made by someone else.


What emotional support did you get? 

Support before birth with planning and discussing different birth scenarios, as well as putting me in touch with a breastfeeding counsellor who I spoke to about my concerns before the birth, as well as a post birth debrief and then someone to check in with so I didn’t feel I was alone with decision making and the responsibility of all decisions on my own. 


How did having a doula help you overall?

Before birth knowing I had support in place made me more relaxed, Natalie had also facilitated some important conversations with my husband, so we were on the same page before the baby was born. When Jasper was born it helped by knowing I wasn’t alone there was someone to talk about it all with – who knew what they were talking about topics like poo, feeding, naps etc. and who could provide me with care. The feeling of having a nap while Jasper was asleep in the sling on Natalie and then to come downstairs to a tidy kitchen and a home cooked lunch was amazing – on the days she didn’t come I didn’t always manage to eat lunch. The reassurance that provides is invaluable. 


Looking back, do you think a doula would have been helpful after your first child?

Yes – I wish I’d known more about them they are 100% worth the investment and it makes the transition much more bearable. 


Would you have a doula if you were to have another baby? 

Definitely – I’m not going to have any more but I would have one again and also probably one for birth the next time too. 


What advice do you have for anyone reading this who may be interested to explore having a doula support them postnatally 

Do it! Meet a few and see who you have a natural rapport with, and then get as much support as possible. Women are not supposed to go through this huge transition alone! Husbands although amazing often have to work, and don’t understand the anxiety around breastfeeding for example, at least in my case. 

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