When it comes to hiring a birth doula, you may be thinking that since you won’t be needing them until the very end of your pregnancy, there’s no need to hire one until a few weeks before your guess date. But before you decide you won’t start looking around until a month or two before you’re due to pop, consider all the benefits you will enjoy if you hire your doula early.
First and foremost, if you hire your doula early it will give you additional time to get to know them better and develop a relationship over the next several months. There’s nothing like the gift of time to cultivate a bond; when you consider that this person is going to be joining you during one of the most significant experiences of your life, it’s beneficial if you can get to know and feel comfortable with each other ahead of time.
Although a doula’s typical scope of services only includes two prenatal visits, with more time to work with these visits may likely increase. If you’re planning a homebirth for example, your doula could join you at an appointment with your midwife so they get a chance to meet each other before the birth. Or your doula can join you at a prenatal check up with your care provider if that makes sense for you. The two of you may even decide on a more casual rendezvous like meeting at the local park for a walk and talk just to check in. The more they know about what’s going on with you and your pregnancy, the more valuable your doula will be in guiding you to the right resources to help you have the best experience possible.
Beyond the relationship aspect, there’s so much a doula can do to prepare you for labor and birth ahead of time. A doula’s area of expertise goes way beyond supporting you in the birth room. Doulas are well-versed in all things pregnancy, birth and postpartum and keep themselves abreast of all local services, birth education classes, support groups, etc. available in your area. Perhaps you’re having a muscle spasm that’s driving you crazy; your doula can refer you to a top-notch prenatal acupuncturist. Or maybe your baby has flipped to a breech position (eek!); your doula can refer you to a massage therapist who’s an expert at performing an external cephalic version (i.e., flip your baby back to a head down position!). A doula has these sorts of referrals at their fingertips, saving you untold time and effort trying to locate them on your own. Sometimes you’re not even aware that your issue can be resolved with one appointment with the right service provider and you’ve resigned yourself to toughing it out. A doula will take care of you and point in you in the direction for help if it’s out there!
Doulas also stay up to date on evidence-based information that they in turn can pass onto you throughout your pregnancy. And if you have a question at any point that you don’t want to bug your care provider with, you can always shoot a text to your doula first. They are happy to field questions and determine if it’s something they can answer for you or if it’s something you actually should ask your care provider about. Either way, it’s nice having someone with knowledge to bounce things off of informally without the feeling of, “Sorry I’m bugging you again, Midwife/OB, but I have another question…”
There’s really no downside to hiring your doula early, only upside. And the beautiful thing is that their fee won’t change for all this extra support. They’re happy to do it in fact, because the more great education, resources and support they can help guide you to beforehand, the better your birth outcome will likely be. So it’s really a win-win. Hire your doula early. You won’t regret that you did.