Monday, October 25, 2010

A student doula?

Over the weekend we met with a student doula, a woman who has gone through the training, but has not attended any births, besides those of her own children. She has given birth to two children, which I think is even more important than attending the births of others. But still, it’s a big experience gap compared to our last doula, who had three children of her own and had attended over 100 births.

Our holiday-season due-date doesn’t work for our prior doula, and we are hesitant to spend $800 when we have a little experience under our belts and I plan to accept pain relief on the earlier side. Nevertheless, we started to worry about the quality and quantity of staffing available over the holidays, what we’d do if we got the one doctor in the practice I’m not comfortable with, and/or a nurse that wasn’t helpful. Perhaps it would be helpful to have someone in the room we knew ahead of time and could count on, even if she wasn’t highly experienced. Perhaps we could find a mutually beneficial arrangement in which we help her meet her qualification requirements and she helps us with support at a minimal cost. So our former doula put us in touch with her student.

She seems like a nice person, someone I’d be happy to share a cup of tea with, someone I could handle being naked in front of when circumstances call for it. She only charges $100, so I thought she was fine for the price.

But in the car ride home, Mark brought up concerns about her chatty nature. During the meeting, I was fine with it, because she came across as friendly. But he made me think, do we really want a chatty person during labor, especially someone who admitted that she may get nervous, although she swears she’s confident and capable of doing the
job? When we looked for a doula the last time, the ones I liked best were the doulas with a yoga or massage background, the ones who exuded a sense of calm and zen-like peace. Perhaps because that’s not my personality and I found that tranquility a good counterforce to my more goal-oriented focus of let’s get this thing out.

Mark seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t be comfortable under the guidance of a chatty person. I told him that if he wasn’t comfortable, then we should skip it. Because one of the main functions that we want a doula for is to be able to guide Mark. If he’s not comfortable with her, then I won’t be comfortable, and it’s not worth it.

I agreed that a more zen-like person would be a better match. However, the likelihood of finding a perfect zen-like student, who is fully available over Christmas and New Year’s, is very remote. We have no other candidates to consider. We had met another doula once who really rubbed both of us the wrong way, and that wasn’t the case with this one. I actually liked this woman - she just might not be the perfect person to guide us through labor. However, I think we are looking at either her or nothing.

As her first potential clients, I imagine she’d be devoted to the job and would try her best. She’d be willing to take pictures and/or write a birth story and I am always appreciative of good record-keeping. She could be a potential source of advice. If she doesn’t know something herself, I think she’d make use of her teachers and student network to find things out. Unless there was a major snowstorm (which is a risk) or she is sick, she would be a familiar face that we could count on seeing. So I don’t see that there is much
to lose in trying her out for $100.

If we hire her, she’ll come to our house for a longer meeting and hopefully Mark could make clear to her what he needs to be comfortable. We have two weeks to think it over, but I think we are learning towards becoming the first practice clients for a doula-in-training.

If you’ve used a student doula, how was your experience?

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