What’s more important: childbirth education or having a doula? My answer, you need both!
When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn’t want to spend the money on both. After convincing my husband, we luckily decide to get both. After having my son, I truly couldn’t tell you which was more important.
Without education, I wouldn’t have known what was going on during labor. When going through labor, one’s mind changes. I became quiet and went into my mind, it was hard to speak. I was only able to listen to my doula and my husband. They were quietly cheering me on, reassuring me that everything was going well. I could tell what my body was doing and how I was progressing through labor because I had studied it so much. I knew when I was in transition, and even though it was incredibly difficult I knew the hard part was almost over. I knew how to breathe my baby out and how to use my pain to guide me through pushing.
When I think about labor without a doula, I really don’t think I could’ve done it. Even though I was educated; like I said, your mind changes. You can’t make decisions clearly. It is hard to even talk at times. My husband wouldn’t have been confident that things were going well. He wouldn't have known how to support me. I think I would’ve read off of his anxiety and not been able to stay calm.
Being educated is imperative to having the base of knowledge needed to be present and confident in your ability to birth your baby. You need to know what’s going on to be able to advocate for yourself. If things change and you need to make important decisions, you know what interventions you want and what path you want to take. A doula not only sits by your side the entire labor, she supports dad. She shows him that things are going well, and can help catch signs that something is going wrong. They are that constant, calm voice of reason.
The difference between my two births was my husband. During my first birth, he sat quietly reassuring me, following my doulas lead. She showed him how to support me. After birth, he was in shock. He just smiled but I could tell he couldn’t believe what we just did! During my second birth he was my active supporter. My doula was the one this time who sat quietly supporting me. He confidently caught our baby and was calm and relaxed after birth. The education we received and what our doula showed him during out first birth experience empowered him and made him confident in his ability to support me. He knew things were going well and what I needed from him.
Long story short: birth is a big deal and you need to be prepared. Setting up your birth team with educated people that you trust is imperative to having a great birth experience. You only get one chance to birth your baby, spend the time now to ensure you are prepared.
Paige Goldade - A Birth Boot Camp Instructor living and loving in South Dakota. She is a wife and mother of two rambunctious toddlers. She works as a childbirth educator and Board Certified Registered Nurse.