For my second birth in May 2012 we decided to hire a doula (birth companion) as we are relatively new to the area and didn’t have family or friends locally who were able to help. Some of my friends had hired doulas for second births because they wanted to avoid the negative experiences of their first births but my main reason was to have an extra pair of hands as it would be impossible for hubby to look after the toddler whilst supporting me during labour. Doulas also act as advocates and know about hospital policies, which can come in handy when facing bullying midwives and bolshy consultants.
After searching for doulas in Swansea on Google when I was about 5 months pregnant, I found an NCT doula – Holly – who I already knew from a baby group I sometimes go to. After a few emails asking for information and an informal meeting with Holly we decided to go for it. The cost was £600 but that included pre- and post-birth meetings and help during the birth itself, however long the birth might be. Importantly, Holly was ‘on call’ to us for the 5 weeks surrounding my due date. Compared to the cost of childcare, a doula is much more pricey, but no nursery or childminder would have been able to have the toddler for long periods of time or overnight, at such short notice. It’s the price we pay for living away from family and close friends.
During labour itself, I was so grateful to have the doula with me so I wasn’t left alone, especially when hubby was busy filling the pool and the midwife was setting up her equipment. Also, the doula’s knowledge of breathing exercises helped during my contractions. Before Holly arrived, I hadn’t been doing the correct breathing techniques and I was struggling at 7cm dilation. Overall, I would say the birth was a decent one (as far as they go, that is) and I was able to have a homebirth, using the pool. I feel really lucky that everything went smoothly and I managed to avoid interventions and I would recommend considering the NCT doula service if you’re facing childcare issues.