As a single mom by choice, I hired doulas for my pregnancy and postpartum journey. Here's why

Doulas can provide parents with support through pregnancy and the postpartum period. (Photo: Getty)
Doulas can provide parents with support through pregnancy and the postpartum period. (Photo: Getty)

5 / 85s a single mom by choice (SMBC), the decision to hire a doula — both for the birth of my daughter and the postpartum period that followed — was an easy one for me. Although doulas are not meant to replace a partner, having additional support was impactful as I navigated pregnancy and life as a new mother. The benefits of having a doula are also well-established, with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists noting that “published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula.”

Unfortunately, not all hospital systems are set up to allow parents to fully employ the resources of a doula. The hospital where I gave birth, Sharp Mary Birch in California, only allows doulas during daytime visitation hours, even though babies are born around the clock. Since I gave birth to my daughter just after 1 a.m., my doula was not allowed into the hospital until 7 a.m., when visiting hours began. Even though my birth doula was not able to be present when my baby was born, the support she provided me during my pregnancy made it a more than worthwhile experience.

I hired my birth doula, Christina Klave, after interviewing three doulas to see who I felt I clicked the best with. Before meeting Klave, I didn’t realize how much guidance doulas could offer during pregnancy — not just labor and delivery. Early on, I worked with Klave to understand birthing options and write down my birth preferences. As my pregnancy progressed and issues arose that I needed help navigating, such as gestational diabetes, my doula was an immense resource. While I felt like I was just a statistic at the doctor’s office, my doula saw me as an individual and had the time and passion to support me during my journey.

Klave is passionate about her role as a birth doula and shares that her own heartbreaking experience led her to this calling. “As a young pregnant woman, I had a very traumatic birth resulting in the death of my second son," she says. "I had no support and was ignored when I knew something was wrong with my pregnancy. Because of this experience, I feel drawn to the birth world and to advocating for the rights of the woman to be listened to and seen.”

Now, she is able to help other families advocate for themselves. “I love the relationship that I am able to create with my families," Klave says. "They are inviting me into a very intimate and sacred experience and it is important to me to honor that relationship.”

When I found out that my prenatal massage therapist, Korrin Hamilton, was also a postpartum doula, I didn’t hesitate to hire her to help after my daughter was born, even though I wasn’t sure what kind of support I would need. I was concerned about the possibility of postpartum depression and, as a SMBC, I wanted to make sure there was someone who could recognize the signs and step in with resources, if needed.

Luckily, I didn’t end up struggling with depression or the "baby blues," but did end up needing more help with physical healing than I expected after my emergency Cesarean delivery. I was overwhelmed trying to figure out how to care of a newborn while recovering from surgery. Without a partner to do some of the literal and figurative heavy lifting, my discharge instructions were daunting. For example, I wasn’t supposed to drive for six weeks, but we had several pediatrician appointments the following week. So, I rallied the support of family, friends and my postpartum doula to help.

Hamilton, my postpartum doula, is a holistic health care provider at From The Heart Massage who says she typically books a three-hour visit to assess how a new mom is doing. "How is breastfeeding going? Is Mom resting and healing? What is Mom eating and can we make any adjustments? More important than anything, how is Mom's mental state? Within this time we make some plans for what kind of support the mom and family need," she says.

For me that included support like teaching me to wrap a sling baby carrier (making holding my baby easier post-Cesarean), brewing me herbal teas, offering postpartum massage and helping me process my birth experience. Hamilton shares that this emotional support is just as pivotal as the physical help.

“A new mom is going through a hormonal dump, lack of sleep and overall healing," she says. "A postpartum doula is there to help a new mom navigate these emotions. During the course of a pregnancy, a woman is supported, doctored and fawned over. But, after the baby is born, I felt there was a huge lack of care for the new mom. When I found the role of a postpartum doula, I knew that was how I could help. I love being a doula because I love to empower women to find their confidence in motherhood.”

Through the support of my doulas, I did find my confidence in motherhood. I look back on my pregnancy and the first weeks at home with my daughter as a beautiful and formative time, where not just a new baby was created, but a new mother as well.

Wellness, parenting, body image and more: Get to know the who behind the hoo with Yahoo Life's newsletter. Sign up here.