What Did the Doula Do?
During Farrah’s birth, our Midwife arrived at the house 30 minutes prior to the event and our Doula arrived after our Midwife. Birth was over in 30 minutes! So what did they do? Looking at the cold, hard facts, lets talk about money first:
We have health insurance. An uncomplicated vaginal birth in a U.S. hospital costs around $10,000 which would have been covered by our insurance. Our Midwifery fee, which included prenatal care and Doula services, cost $2,700 and is not covered by our insurance. While I’d love to delve deeper into the issue of why the same birth costs three times as much in a hospital, this post is about my experience. (But if you’re interested, check out what Washington is trying to accomplish on the issue.)
So $2,700 for 30 minutes work? Sign.me.up. right?
Lets break it down:
Aside from reminding me to breathe and washing my face, in those 30 minutes my Midwife and Doula did something that would have never happened in the hospital: left me and my space alone. I birthed in the dark, standing up, screaming and throwing things, trusted and respected.
After delivering my baby . . . wait . . . what’s that, Ryan?
Oh Ryan. *swoon*
After catching my baby, we were helped to the bed which was covered in warm towels and propped cushions, lights already dimmed.
While deep in the oxytocin glow, gazing and bonding skin-to-skin, several things happened:
Someone cleaned the entire bathroom. Every cushion and towel found their way to the downstairs laundry room. Every surface was wiped clean. Even my vomit bowl was washed.
Never leaving the bed, I was gently yet firmly encouraged to birth Farrah’s placenta. (The Assistant Midwife had arrived after the birth and got to work on this as well.) My legs were shaking violently. I was scared and said so. My Doula held my hand, locked eye contact and offered “It’s so great you can speak your fears, you can do this, it’s going to be okay and you’ll feel better . . .”) It did. The Midwives took care of the placenta and then washed me, right down to the bottoms of my feet.
My Doula brought up a banana which Kris fed me and then she made me an almond butter waffle. Without prompting, she repeatedly held the water bottle to my mouth so I could drink without letting go of Farrah.
My Midwives inspected me for tears and abrasions. This was highly uncomfortable. Again my Doula held my hand and talked me through it.
Several massages were performed to make sure my uterus was getting hard. I was constantly monitored for bleeding, and quietly yet repeatedly asked about my well-being.
Kris took Farrah while I got up to pee. Towels and pads were carried beneath me, an arm supported me while I walked and someone held my gaze upwards to ensure I wouldn’t pass out. I took a quick shower then the bathroom floor was cleaned again. I was never left alone.
Someone took out the trash.
This was the very last thing to happen that night. We were together, the three of us, for a long time while the Midwives went downstairs to take care of their charting and paperwork and our Doula the laundry and placenta encapsulation. In this time, in addition to just being all lovey-dovey, Farrah got started on breastfeeding.
Then came the things like weight and length and measuring her head circumference. Her skin was looked over, her lungs were checked, her palate – everything that goes with a newborn check-up.
Feeling secure in our comfort and Farrah’s nursing, our Doula and Midwife left around 9:30pm. Farrah and I immediately went to sleep and didn’t leave the house for nearly a week. Our Midwife has since visited us three times, to do things like the hearing screening and work on the birth certificate as well as assess my postpartum health. I believe we’ll have one more visit before her services are fully rendered.
And that’s what our home birth looked like, start to finish. For us, for our family, it was worth every penny. I hope your dreams of birth come true too.