We’ve heard all the ways and seen all the memes describing how the second kid gets screwed. The first kid got a scrapbook with all the trimmings. While the second’s images have never been removed from the cloud (if the photos were ever taken in the first place!) He or she had a perfectly decorated nursery while the second one basically gets a mattress on the floor. The first child couldn’t possibly get a taste of sugar until their first birthday. The second child is sucking on ring pops at seven months. These examples are meant in jest. But they are funny because there is a real element of truth in them. Parents are more laid back once the second baby comes around. We’re more confident. We tend to have a family routines in place. We have already demonstrated we can do this whole baby thing.
But, one area often overlooked by parents welcoming their second baby is in their consideration of whether or not to hire a doula. Whether or not a doula assisted you and your partner with the birth of your first child, it’s wise to consider using a birth doula the second time around. And you will surely want a postpartum doula too. Lucky for you,
I’m here to break down seven reasons why you will want to hire a doula for the second baby:
1. Even if you have experience with birth, you don’t have experience with THIS birth.
You’re having your second baby, which means you have experience with birth. But, ask any woman who has had two or twenty babies, and she’ll tell you no birth is the same. While no birthing professional can tell you what your labor and delivery will be like, we can assure you this: it will be different from the first. It could be easier, more difficult, longer, shorter, more painful, less painful, and/or a different type of a delivery altogether.
Nicole Edwards (one of my doula sisters) says “My first thought is birth, even the second one, is unpredictable. Your second birth might not unfold like your first and it might not unfold as a ’typical’ second birth.”
Regardless of your level of experience and comfort with the labor and delivery process, no mother knows how it’s all going to play out beforehand. It’s all just as unknown as the first time. Having a doula present can provide the support you need.
2. A doula can make the experience special and new.
Since the second (and beyond) birth is filled with as much awe, anticipation, and (let’s face it) fear as the first, we know it’s going to end with its own unique story—and its own unique baby! A constant, calm support such as a doula can help you focus on the beauty of the labor and delivery experience so you can remember it as a special and exciting day. One of my doula sister’s client put it best when she said, “I felt more supported in this birth than I did the first even though my family was at the first.”
3. A doula can make the experience more peaceful.
Having a person to assist you with information gathering, providing relaxation techniques you didn’t have with your first birth, and simply providing you (and your partner) with emotional support will leave you with fewer things to worry about. Maybe you are wanting the “redo” birth you didn’t get with the first time.
4. Birth is unpredictable and doula’s are trained to handle change.
Real talk. You have no idea what’s going to happen and how the plot will twist throughout the labor and delivery. Our babies always seem to keep their plan for birth a secret. And, although it’s not likely something scary, it might be. You could be exhausted and at the peak of your emotional capacity. Your partner may be, too. You need someone in the room who can think calmly, provide options, be your advocate, and be your guide through any dramatic twists as they come.
5. A doula can help capture moments you missed with the first.
While labor and delivery can last forever—or at least feel like they do–the end stages tend to be quick and it’s easy to miss things. One client told her doula, “I think going into a second birth and having the experience of your first, I remembered how sacred those moments of birth were. I wanted someone to help hold those moments and that space with me.”
Whether you forgot to take photos, didn’t get the shots you wanted, your partner wasn’t close enough to cut the umbilical cord (or the nurse forgot s/he wanted to do so), or there was simply no one to give you that glass of water you needed, a doula can be an essential third person in the room. She’ll keep her wits about her and ensure none of these things will be overlooked the second time around.
6.Partners need a doula too.
Think of a me as your wing (wo)man. And not just for you– for your partner, too. Partners often feel helpless throughout the labor and delivery process. They see you in pain and discomfort and feel there is nothing they can do to help. It’s hard to see the person you love hurting so much. A doula can tell your partner exactly what they can do to participate in the process and support you. Often just that reassurance to your partner that mom is ok and safe can mean everything. Having a doula present allows your partner to take a break, go get you things, and so forth. You’ll never be alone – you and your partner will have a calm trusted resource available at all times.
7.You already have a kid, and need help with that kid.
Last but not least, let’s not forget you already have a kid. Who will care for that child while you and your partner are delivering the baby? You could hire a sibling doula or consider that a birth doula can be a huge help to your partner who will likely be managing some of that support at home. When your partner goes home to care for the first child, your doula can continue to assist you in the hospital, should you choose.
And, don’t forget… NOW YOU HAVE TWO KIDS. When you go home, there is quite a bit more to manage. A postpartum doula can provide tremendous support during the fourth trimester by sharing the duties of baby care, light house work, sibling introduction and routine, meal preparation, and much more.
Many women only experience pregnancy and birth a handful of times in their lives. A doula can help make this “few times in a lifetime” experience memorable for all of the reasons we hope our pregnancies/births are memorable. Since a doula’s primary focus is pregnancy and birth and soothing and comforting, that kind of experience can prove to be very valuable when responding to a situation as dynamic as birth.
For these reasons, yes of course you need a doula for your first, second, or tenth baby.