It is a hard thing for a doula to admit:

Some of the best births are the ones at which I’m not needed.  Superfluous.  Merely a concierge service.  Standing around twiddling my thumbs or sitting in the corner knitting.

Because at those births, the birthing couple can say entirely, “We did it all ourselves.”

I was on my way to a birth recently when the dad called and said they had decided to go on to the hospital.  I arrived at the hospital just before they did.  Maybe 7 contractions from the elevator to the bed, the baby was born.  The doctor barely got a glove on.

What did I do at this birth?  Hmmmm.  I wiped a brow.  Spoke some words.  Took a couple of pictures.  Made some red raspberry leaf tea for afterbirth pains.  The mom and dad were the only heroes in this birth story–as they should be!

In this instance, I was just an expensive brow-wiper.

The trouble with birth is that you can’t predict the path it will take.  And you often can’t predict the caregivers who will attend you.  Will they have patience?  Will they know labor tricks to resolve a complication without resorting to abdominal surgery.  Because I attend births both in-hospital and out-of-hospital, I’ve seen c-sections for things that were resolved with time and technique in other settings.

A doula is an insurance plan.  You hope you won’t need her but you’re glad she’s there.