How a doula can help you at your birth
Hi, my name is Katie and I am a doula! I love all things pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding; after my own birth experience, and attending the birth of my best friend’s daughter, I decided that I wanted to be around birth all of the time. I love being a doula because I thoroughly enjoy walking with women and their families through pregnancy, labor and the birth of their sweet babies. I’ve always been someone who is a nurturer and as a birth doula, I get to take care of and provide comfort and support during one of the most transformative times in a woman’s life.
So what is a doula?
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Each of the people mentioned above is a key player on your birth team. Your midwife or doctor will provide clinical support to you throughout pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum. Usually, midwives and OBs differ in their approach to pregnancy, labor & birth (but that’s another topic). If you’re giving birth in a hospital, you’ll have a labor and delivery nurse who’ll care for you and your baby during labor. As a doula, I’m trained to provide non-medical physical, emotional and informational support to you and your partner. I do not perform clinical tasks such as taking your blood pressure, checking fetal heart tones, checking for cervical dilation, making diagnoses, or prescribing treatments. This is part of the care you’ll receive from your OB or midwife and/ or a labor and delivery nurse.
This is probably one of the most common questions I get, and dads really are concerned about being replaced! Don’t worry, dads! You matter and I am NOT your competition! Laboring and giving birth is a process unlike any other you will experience. While you and your partner can read, take classes, talk to others and prepare in various ways for the birth of your child (and all of these are GREAT), there is no guarantee that when labor day arrives, that your partner will know how to best support all of the needs you have. During labor, women are not always able to communicate exactly what they need when it comes to physical support. As a doula, I’m trained to look for signals from a woman as to what might work best for her, and am conscious of the normal flow of labor. Often, we’re able to think ahead and be ready for what a woman might experience. This isn’t to say that there aren’t partners who rise to the occasion – dads rule! However, often times, partners don’t know how they’ll be once things are actually in motion. A partner isn’t always prepared for the intensity the woman experiences and isn’t sure how to handle seeing their loved one going through this process. Having a doula can help to ease the unknowns!
When it comes to possible interventions, I can talk openly with you both and help you understand why something is being suggested. I can’t speak for you, but I can help you be informed and feel confident in making any decisions needed.
Why should I consider a doula for my upcoming birth?
There are many reasons to consider having a doula to support you at your upcoming birth, and after! Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily. Studies have also found that women who had continuous support from a doula has a shorter labor by about forty minutes, and their babies were less likely to have lower Apgar scores. These findings all suggest that the presence of continuous support by your side during labor and delivery, and immediately postpartum, help your transition into motherhood easier and more pleasant ( as well as less stressful and possibly safer!)
I hope that this post will answer most of your questions about who doulas are and what they do – and maybe even encourage you to seek one out for your next pregnancy! If you have any more questions, or are interested in finding a doula in your area – feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I would love to help you understand more and find someone truly awesome for your support!
The Motherhood Journey has compiled a list of resources to help you find a doula in your area.