Are doulas a necessity or a luxury? This is a topic that comes up frequently in the doula community.
There are doulas that believe that every woman NEEDS a doula or at the very least, that every woman DESERVES a doula. These doulas tend to fall into the camp of doulas being a necessity.
Then there is the other school of thought that feels that no one NEEDS a doula and women are fully capable of giving birth without a one. These doulas commonly refer to a doula as being a luxury.
I personally don't feel that doulas are a necessity. I feel that every woman is capable of birthing without a doula (they do it every day). I also feel that support is hugely beneficial whether that comes from a family member, friend or a doula. But the word "luxury" tends to rub people the wrong way.
When we think of luxuries we tend to think of things that are wildly expensive and frivolous. I think we also tend to think of them as going beyond "wants" to the next level, wants that we can only dream of and very few are able to attain.
One of the dictionary definitions of a luxury is: "something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary". This seems like a reasonable description of what a doula offers clients during their births without being over the top and frivolous.
When we start to really think about necessity vs luxury, we can see that many things we enjoy in life are luxuries. Food, water and shelter and necessities. Healthcare is a necessity at times. Going out to dinner with our families is a luxury. Owning a cell phone or a computer, watching television, etc. are all luxuries.
This word used to rub me the wrong way too. In the massage world we have worked so hard to teach the general public and other health professionals that massage therapy is more than just a luxury. It is a healthcare practice and can benefit so many body systems. We have fought because what we really want is to be respected for what we do and what we offer and for it's benefits to be recognized.
But if I am completely honest with you, as much as I understand both the benefits of massage therapy and the non-medical support a doula provides, I am well aware that neither of these practices save lives and neither of these practices are necessities. I certainly don't feel that they are frivolous or unattainable for most of the population, but I also understand that for many, these services require budgeting and at times sacrifice in other aspects of life. This is not something I take lightly and I do my best to work with clients to find an option that helps them to afford these services such as payment plans, shorter massage sessions, etc.
As a side note: I should also add that in cases of postpartum doula support, there are times when some sort of support is a necessity and for some that is a doula.