Hiring a Doula for Childbirth

Thanks everyone for your advice and sharing your experiences! Most hospitals in France are typically against having doulas and mine is no exception. Sages-femmes are threatened by them although they serve no medical purpose and simply act as birthing coaches. We may have a work around as I plan on having a natural birth and the birthing room is plenty big and I'll need 2 people to help hold me in various birthing positions. I highly doubt any of the multiple sage-femmes in the hospital will have the desire or time to do this! And speaking of multiple sage-femmes, I've already met so many it's mind-boggling and I was told to expect to meet even more! Passing my doula off as my translator should help as everytime I show up at the hospital, the sage-femmes get nervous about their English speaking skills.....too cute!

Continuity of support is key for me to having a positive experience - especially without medication - and although my husband is great, he will serve a completely different purpose as he'll be emotionally involved. Plus he almost fainted when my doc examined me at 2cm dilated and told us he felt our baby's head! So I want him to be alive and well throughout with as little stress as possible :-) My doula's purpose is to use various techniques to keep us calm and focussed for a quicker labor and much lower rate of c-section and epidural.

We're calling the OB today to try to get permission for 2 people and I'll post an update soon!

Hi Suzanne, sounds unbelievable but she went in at 10, spent all day being proded etc but didn't go into the delivery room until late evening when things really started happening then she "stalled" as with the first and we had to wait all night for things to start again the following morning so under the péridurale she dosed off a few times with me sitting on a very uncomfortable school type chair next to her!

your oh slept in labour??

Hi Kimarie, Don't know what a Doula is but was present when my OH gave birth to our two kids - plenty of space and responsability (the little a bloke can have in a delivery room!) but I was involved from start to finish, couldn't cut the umbilical cord the first time as it got a bit complicated but did the second time. Yes French medicine and hospitals are very very full on medical treatment and not at all alternative but ask, speak to the staff and your gynécologue. If you can't speak french then ask about having someone there who can (can't help there; OH is French and I'm fluent too). Wise words about food - I nipped out and got a macdonalds the first time and brought sandwiches back to the hospital the second - first birth 12hrs in the delivery room, second was the same 22h00 to 10h00 the next morning - oh got more sleep than I did :-O

bonne chance !

Yes my hubby and baby got evicted from my first labour after the baby arrived as I had to undergo an anaesthetic, it was a bit scary but I woke up really calm & happy. I understood enough of what was going on to know it was necessary but nothing major.

Tracy's point about the food though is totally true, it's also really tricky to find food outside the usual french food hours (all the dodgy butter & ham sandwiches machines were emptied by 7pm) so make sure you take plenty of sandwiches & snacks. I have memories of my husband snacking on pringles much to the amusement of the gynae.

No 1 started at 5am and arrived at 7.30pm, No 2 was induced and only took 3.5 hours but as a result I am feeling scared for the next one, will it arrive in the taxi? At least this time my hubby is only 10 minutes away!

Hi Kimarie,

Try not to worry too much, (says me who stood at the door of maternity the 2nd time and refused to go in :-) )I speak fluent french and both times while I was in labour my French completely deserted me but I still managed. The staff are generally very sympathetic.

Giving birth the first time can actully be very long and drawn out so your hubby will have time to go to the loo, several times! Very important for you both though - don't forget to take a picnic for him as it will not be a good idea for him to nip out to find a take away!

With regards to the doula being present, can't you just explain she is a friend? The other thing to remember is that if the pros decide it is necesary, they will evict everyone from the room, even papa. My husband didn't see our first being born as the decision was made to fetch the gynae and and that was it - papa out (despite my screams and tears). However, they are professionals and have done it hundreds, even thousands of times before and everything will be just fine! As it was for me the second time, the mw asked me why I was crying when I should be so happy, when I explained that I was afraid of the pain, she just said that they would arrange for me to have the epidural straight away! Problem solved.

Hi Kimarie

I've had 2 babies in France and survived! In fact the first one was an amazing experience and even though I didn't understand everything that was said I still managed to have a good birth and wish I was having my 3rd in France in 5 weeks rather than England.

I didn't have a Doula, my husband was with me for both, although for my second I had a few emergency premature attempts where he was away working so a friend came with me. The hospital were great about it and it wasn't a problem when he arrived as well. I'd also been told by my midwife (a freelance one rather than hospital one) that she could come to the hospital if I'd wanted her to but I was happy with the hospital midwives who were very attentive and seemed to have plenty of time for me.

My view, whether you have a doula or not, at your stage in pregnancy is that the best thing you can do is try to stay calm, focus on you and your husband and your little baby. Try not to worry about translation, many of the words come naturally, you'll be surprised. Staff are used to dealing with people in pain and so instructions tend to be very basic & understandable. 'Stop' is one important one I remember being shouted at me!

I don't know how good your french is but if you want I am happy to chat with you and give you some of the terminology I picked up during my experiences.

If your doula is bilingual which I assume she is then can you/she not call the hospital/birthing clinic to check their position on doulas or have you already done this?

Good Luck

Suzanne