I know this isn't quite the right spot for this, but I can't find the correct forum.
The wife and I are still TTC but we have been discussing a lot about Doula's. We can't find an objective opinion about them, everything we read seems to be the same, written by Doula's almost with the same text saying how wonderful they are.
Are all Doula's perfect or does anyone have any real life experiences with them, good or bad (I can't believe that there isn't a single bad Doula opinion on Google, are they really ALL that good).
We interviewed 3 doulas and hired one. Then we backed out of the contract 5 months before my due date because I had a complication that meant I would certainly be having a scheduled c-section. It wasn't worth having a doula for a c-section. During the interviews, they told me there were some uncertified doulas that were giving a bad reputation for doulas in the region. The problem was that they would get too involved and start bossing around the nurses and doctors. This was damaging the relationship between nurses/doctors and doulas. The doulas we interviewed said that they would not interceded with doctors and nurses on our behalf, that we would have to do that for ourselves. We could talk with the doula about things confidentially though to see if we would be requesting anything they thought to be unreasonable, though.
I think another problem could be a doula who takes on too many clients. Then there's a chance she won't be available for your birth, and you might end up with a sub doula that you don't know. (We decided to ask one of the doulas we interviewed that we didn't hire to be a sub, since we were comfortable with more than one of the doulas we interviewed.) I also looked for someone with a lot of experience, and experience with difficult births.
I think a lot of people think of doulas as kind of a crunchy, granola-type person who will push a woman to have a natural birth. The 3 women we interviewed were very clear that they wanted to follow the birth plan that the we wanted and would not push their own agenda. I think that's standard practice.
Its customary to interview 2 or 3 doulas before deciding whether you want a doula at all and to figure out who to hire. This person is going to be spending round-the-clock time with you and your partner during one of the most intimate episodes of your life. Its important you feel really comfortable with the person.
Here's an exerpt from a clinical journal I got off of the NIH's www.pubmed.com website. This is a conclusion formed from an analysis of 12 separate clinical trials. You can look at more manuscript exerpts if if you want. Just go to the website and do a search on "doula". Then be sure to sort by pubdate, and look at the most recent articles.
J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 1999 Dec;8(10):1257-64.
The purpose of this article is to review the evidence regarding the effectiveness of continuous support provided by a trained laywoman (doula) during childbirth on obstetrical and postpartum outcomes. Twelve individual randomized trials have compared obstetrical and postpartum outcomes between doula-supported women and women who did not receive doula support during childbirth. Three meta-analyses, which used different approaches, have been performed on the results of the clinical trials. Emotional and physical support significantly shortens labor and decreases the need for cesarean deliveries, forceps and vacuum extraction, oxytocin augmentation, and analgesia. Doula-supported mothers also rate childbirth as less difficult and painful than do women not supported by a doula. Labor support by fathers does not appear to produce similar obstetrical benefits. Eight of the 12 trials report early or late psychosocial benefits of doula support. Early benefits include reductions in state anxiety scores, positive feelings about the birth experience, and increased rates of breastfeeding initiation. Later postpartum benefits include decreased symptoms of depression, improved self-esteem, exclusive breastfeeding, and increased sensitivity of the mother to her child's needs. The results of these 12 trials strongly suggest that doula support is an essential component of childbirth. A thorough reorganization of current birth practices is in order to ensure that every woman has access to continuous emotional and physical support during labor.