When I was pregnant the first time a friend of mine asked if I was considering using a doula during my labor. I had no idea what a doula was. She explained a doula was a non-medical labor support person and that they are usually used during natural childbirths. I had no real reason to use a doula. I thought I'd have enough support from my husband and I felt like I could handle anything else alone. I wasn't 100% committed to having a natural birth, either, so thought a doula's care would really not be effective for me. I just didn't realize doulas are useful for every birth (drugs or no drugs). If I had a doula during my first birth, which was in a hospital, there is no question I would have felt calmer and more supported. My husband was great, however, he was full of nervous energy and wasn't trained as a labor support person. My labor and delivery nurse was present with me during my labor, but, she was mostly using her computer and paying no attention to me except for during my vital checkups. My nurse was not familiar with natural birthing, either. I could have really used a doula.
The studies supporting doulas show that they work best if they aren't related to the Mom. I like to think of it as having someone hired specifically to support you with an unbiased mind, much like a doctor or therapist should not be related to the person they are serving. Your mom, grandma, husband, and sister are all helpful and wonderful support, but, are they trained to handle your specific needs during childbirth? They usually worry so much during labors that they are anxious until the baby is out, then all the focus shifts on the new baby while Mom sits there without the attention she needs. Dads can be trained for labor support, which is wonderful, but I would still recommend having a doula present to give him breaks or to assist him in helping you while you labor and directly after the baby is born. It's a tough job to take on all the responsibility of nurturing the Mother during labor. Even during cesarians a doula would be highly beneficial in staying with the mother during her time of surgery and recovery. Have you ever met anyone who used a doula that didn't recommend using one during your birth? I haven't.
I want you to think about how your birth went or how you want it to go next time. Think about the presence of a doula along with your other medical support and family support. If the vision puts you at ease and lessens some of your anxiety or fear, know that there are many doulas waiting to serve you. That's what we do. That's our passion. We want to make your transition into Motherhood as peaceful and calm as possible. We love birth and we want to take care of you.