My doula is kick-ass. And she had a pretty kick-ass apprentice too. Below the doula is on my right and the apprentice on my left.
Not only were they both great labor coaches, which was all I was really hoping for, but they were also there for me right after the birth to get me warm blankets, water, a cool washcloth, and a barf bag. The doctors and nurses did not think of this. Then to top it off I got some MUCH needed post-partum attention too. Our hospital was great in many ways but post-partum care was not one of them. They sent us packing about 36 hrs after the birth (although we were happy to leave - don't get me wrong). When I called the lactation consultants a few days later for some help nursing (little Layla caught on a little TOO well and has become somewhat of an addict) I got totally useless answers, like "it's legal to nurse anywhere in Seattle" (GREAT but can you help me figure out how to stop nursing long enough to go to the bathroom?) and "this will get a lot better after six weeks" (FANTASTIC, but how do I deal with the blisters that I'm getting right NOW?). My favorite: when I asked how/when to introduce the bottle, her answer was 'but why would you want to use a bottle?'. I need an answer, not an opinion! argh.
The doula, on the other hand, gave me practical advice that I could actually use. She showed us how to figure out the difference between real nursing and 'comfort nursing', and how to stop nursing at that point and comfort the baby other ways. She also had helpful suggestions for dealing with the blisters. Then she called back a few days later to check in - and offered even more helpful advice. The blisters are finally healing, and we have a lot more tools in our toolbox for dealing with a boob-addicted baby. Thank you, doula(s)!