My sister’s baby is due any day now. And, since we don’t know whether she’s having a girl or a boy – a decision that still has me gnashing my teeth – for the purpose of this post, I’ll refer to him or her as Bean.

While I was discussing Bean’s imminent arrival with my co-workers – two women who have and are expecting grandchildren – the subject of doulas came up.

They asked if I was going to be in the delivery room and I replied that I believe my sister is going to keep the room fairly empty with just her husband and doula. They looked at each and then at me.

“What’s a doula?”

“It’s kind of hard to explain. They’re basically a combination liaison between the mom and dad and the hospital staff, masseuse, advocate, assistant…” I trailed off at their confused looks. Another co-worker who had walked in halfway through the conversation came up with the best description.

“It’s like having your mother in the delivery room without the strings.”

And she was right. I wasn’t able to afford a doula with either of my children, though I had my sister – the one who is currently pregnant – making sure the hospital didn’t give Elizabeth a bottle the way they wanted to while I recovered from my c section. I was lucky enough to have a nurse who was a former doula. That woman knew how to massage during a contraction like no one else! Still, from the descriptions of my friends, the doula is someone who is on your side.

And, in this day and age when families live spread apart, it’s nice that there’s someone you can hire to be a “mother” without all the emotional strings attached.

Did you have a doula? Would you hire a doula?