I had to have a C-section in my 1st pregnancy due to placenta previa so when my 2nd pregnancy was confirmed to be a healthy one I was very keen on trying for a vaginal delivery. After some research I learned that having a doula increases one's chances of successful vaginal birth so I decided to hire one to up my chances. I was never skeptical about the role of doula; however, after interviewing several I realized that there was a wide spectrum of doulas out there when it came to their beliefs about birth, their attitudes towards medical establishment, birthing in a hospital even, choices of pain relief, etc. Meeting a wide array of doulas made it obvious for me that a wrong doula can spoil your birthing experience by imposing her own biases so it is very important to choose one who would be in tune with your views. Nicole was that person for me. We both understood that things can go wrong with VBAC so she knew that I wanted to celebrate every small victory in order not to be disappointed if the big prize is not claimed, so to speak. By the time we arrived in the hospital I was fully dilated and was never left alone to fend for myself, which was my initial fear and one of the reasons for hiring a doula. However, here are specific things, which were better for me because i had you: a lot of information quickly available in the weeks leading to delivery, ranging from a good acupuncturist to blood cord banks; great daily support as I was going overdue and getting nervous about what that could mean for my chances of VBAC; amazing support on the way to the hospital and when we arrived there as I was in transitional labour and really had a hard time focusing. It was great to have someone there who could not only lead me and help me with contractions, but also knew the lay of the land at Mt Sinai; great support during pushing because doula is pretty much the only person who focuses on your face and can guess when you need a drink of water or feeling nauseous. The rest of the people in the room tend to focus on your other body parts :)
Of course, I would recommend having a doula especially to women labouring for the first time, but there is something I want to mention here. As a person who watched "The business of being born" way too many times, one of the reasons I wanted to have a doula was to have a buffer between me and the 'medical establishment' who might be pushing unnecessary interventions and take away my opportunity to have a natural birth. During the process of interviewing doulas I realized that many doulas were too anti 'medical establishment' even for my taste. As you know, I went on to have a uterine rupture, that unlikely and dangerous complication of VBAC. I realize that if nature had its way neither I nor my two children would be around (uterine septum, placenta previa and now uterine rupture - what an obstetric basket case!) So I am grateful to modern obstetrics. I also realize that a lot of precautionary and/or overly cautious hospital protocols exist because of women like me. Of course, they are hinderance to many healthy women whose birth experiences are tempered with, but they are life savers for the likes of me. And since a lot of doulas are passionate critics of hospitals' ways it puts me a bit at odds with the doula community. In my experience, I felt like my doctor and all the hospital staff were very committed in granting my wish of VBAC, I did not feel like epidural was pushed onto me (yes, it was always there as an option and I reached for it when I realized that something was off and I would not be pushing out my baby as quickly as everyone initially predicted), the after birth care was excellent.
I had a good experience with you as a doula (although I know from your blog that you too hold many reservations against the way things are done at hospitals here) because you are able not to bring your biases into your work and I think it is worth a lot.
My partying wish from the childbearing world as I will not be trying my luck again is for the medical and doula communities to form a more harmonious relationship as you are working towards the same goal of healthy and satisfied mothers and babies; the more satisfied mothers are the healthier they are (even if things go awry) and vice versa.