The short answer is no, you don't need to have a doula, but you should consider hiring one. Continue reading and I’ll tell you the benefits as to why!
Your Birth Team
A doula is a member of your birth team along with your OB/GYN or midwife, loved one(s) and birth photographer. Above all, doulas are your resource for having a positive birthing experience and will provide you with continuous support throughout the process.
Neither OB/GYN nor midwife provide this type of ongoing support. Regardless of where you decide to give birth — hospital, birth center or home — your birth professional (i.e. OB/GYN or midwife) is not required to spend your whole labor with you. Even loved one(s) may need to time to rest during longer labor.
Role of Doula
A doula has a wealth of knowledge surrounding relaxation techniques during birth as well as coping with the sometimes very intense wave surges (i.e. contractions). In addition, they have a deep understanding of the physiology of birth and can help to progress the birth process naturally by repeating a variety of bodily movements.
Moreover, a doula provides moral support by reminding you of your birthing power and strength at the moments when you may feel like you can’t keep going, which typically means that you're pretty close to meeting your little one(s)!
Studies show that having the continuous support of a doula, can increase chances of a positive birth experience for parents and baby, including a reduction in unnecessary medical interventions. Read more on that in the article here.
Types of Doulas
The fascinating thing is, depending on your need, there are different types of doulas. For instance, there are postpartum doulas whose main focus is recovery and assistance after birth. Besides that, they can also help with chores around the house, ensuring you are taking plenty of rest and recuperating after bringing new life into this world!
Another type is an antepartum doula - who usually cares for high-risk pregnant women, including pregnancy complications, or who are confined to bed rest for up to 20 weeks.
In addition, some doulas have been trained to provide support during all stages of pregnancy and they are called full spectrum. Here is more information on full spectrum doulas from Birthing Advocacy Doula Training.
In conclusion when you make the decision to hire a doula whether for birth, postpartum, or both, make sure to meet with your candidate(s) in person. Choosing the right doula, especially for birth, requires finding the person you feel connected to, with whom you share common values. In other words, someone you can trust to follow you on this special journey.