How does a doula measure success? I'm sure it depends on the doula and I'm sure my perspective will evolve over time. I feel like a birth is successful when the mom I supported felt cared for, respected, and supported by her partner, her care providers, and her doula. When this happens, no matter the outcome of the birth, the mom will look back on her birth experience more positively.
Most families do not hire a doula just because they want to think back and have a positive birth experience (although I think that's reason enough to have a doula!). When moms interview us, we ask them why they want a doula. The large majority of them mention that they want to have as few interventions as possible and they desire a natural birth. Typically, about 70% of moms get an epidural and about a third of moms have a c-section. Most moms who come to Natural Baby Doulas want to avoid those two things. We were able to support 48 moms in 2016 and 75% of those moms had a natural birth! Here are our 2016 outcomes:
75% - Natural Birth
8% - Vaginal Birth with an Epidural
17% - C-Section
More than these numbers, we look back at 2016 and are thankful for a successful year because we saw families formed, siblings added, and healing birth experiences. And even when the outcomes were not as the families hoped - they were still thankful for our support. One mom who tried for a VBAC told me that she still didn't understand why she needed to have another c-section - she was so disappointed - but she was thankful for my support because she truly knew she did everything she could to try to have a vaginal birth. And it's true - she labored so well and did everything right. It was an honor for me to witness that and then support her as she had her c-section. We are looking forward to 2017 - we have many wonderful families we have already met and are ready to stand beside as they bring their babies from the inside to the outside - some moms for the first time and others for the fifth. Witnessing birth never gets old. It's going to be a good year in 2017!