No matter how prepared you think you are, once you take that test and those two blue lines come up positive, all bets are off. Often times, adjusting to the idea of parenthood and faced with the unpredictable nature of labour, many women and their partners find an enormous reassurance in having a Doula by their side.
In fact, research shows that when a Birth Doula is present, labour tends to be shorter, there are fewer complications, less need for pain meds or medical interventions, and overall couples are more likely to rate their childbirth experience positively.
That all sounds awesome, right? Like, who wouldn’t want that?
Ok, cool. But now tell me, what actually is a Doula..
WHAT IS A DOULA?
The actual word ‘Doula’ comes from the Greek word meaning “a woman who serves”. A Doula is a non-medical trained professional who provides physical and emotional support to a woman, her partner, and family, before, during and after birth. As it is today, there are two main types of Doulas – Birth & Postpartum. Pretty much one focuses on the pregnancy & birth, and the other focuses on life after baby and making sure the transition to parenthood (and life on the outside, hello world!) go as smoothly as possible.
OK, SO THEN WHAT IS A BIRTH DOULA?
Well, a Birth Doula is someone who’s main focus is the pregnancy, birth, and early postpartum stage. That usually means up to the first 4-6 weeks after birth. Birth Doulas educate women, their partners, and families to have informed choices so that they feel they are able to maintain control of their birth experience.
Now, that doesn’t mean that their birth will go exactly ‘according to plan’. Because if there’s one thing that is always consistent in every birth, it’s that things always have a way of working out on their own terms & timeline. But what it does mean, is that if / when things take a small (or sometimes big) detour, they can still feel confident with the new set of choices and paths laid out in front of them because their Doula was there to help them navigate + give them the information they needed to make informed choices.
It’s totally fine if you have your mind set on some things, and no matter what you just want to follow through. For example, it’s totally fine if you’ve decided you for sure, no matter what, want an epidural for your labour. There’s nothing wrong with that. What I want to make sure of, as your Doula, is that in the very least, you know all of the facts around having an epidural and all of the facts around not having one. You can still choose to have one, and I will help you through it and make sure you’re comfortable after you’ve gotten one, but at least then you’ll have all the facts. That’s all. It’s just a better feeling all around when we know why we’re making the choices we’re making. Don’t you think?
For me, as a Birth Doula, I think it’s important to recognize that every labouring woman needs something entirely different. We’re all so unique to begin with, it only makes sense that in labour different things are going to work better for different people. What works for you probably won’t work for the next person. And that’s the beauty of it! For this reason, my approach to labour varies in order to best serve the clients I work with. I adapt to the people, surroundings, and energy in the room; tuning into your individual needs as things progress.
As your Doula, I will be there to give you the emotional and physical support you’ll need in labour. Giving you soothing massage – or maybe your partner needs a quick shoulder rub because they’re the one rubbing your back, or feet, or arms, or legs, or shoulders… as you go through each contraction. I mean, they’re going to need some help and support too – offering suggestions of different labouring positions you can try, and other comfort measures (which we’ll go over in your prenatal visits). Depending on where you plan to birth, there may be different comfort measures available to you, so those are the types of things we’ll discuss as we prepare throughout your pregnancy. I also acknowledge that there is a time and a place for medical intervention, and I completely support the parents’ right to choose what is right for them. Whatever happens, whatever choices you make, I’ll be there to give you the information you need and walk you through the process.
Ultimately, my goal is to craft a positive birth experience specific to the needs of you and your loved ones.
This is your day. I’m just so happy you’ve asked me to be a part of it.
WHAT ABOUT MY PARTNER?
My role as a Doula is to also be supportive of your partner. I am not there to replace or take over for anyone. I am there to work with you and the people you’ve chosen to be at your birth. It’s equally important that they feel confident going into what will be a life-changing day for them, too! Don’t ya think?
With that said, working together can look different for different people. For some it may mean having me take the lead role to support mom as she labours through each contraction. For others, it may look more like a ‘supporting actress’ type of role where your partner is front and centre doing whatever it is that’s working for you; I’ll be the one getting the ice chips and making sure there’s always a fresh cold cloth to cool you down. While I’m tending to the details, your partner can stay present and focused on the moments that are important to you both.
You know the concept that when you’re walking across a tightrope, if you know you’ve got a net beneath you, you’re less scared & therefor less likely to fall simply because you know you have something to catch you if you do… well, having a Doula is sort of the same thing (especially from the partner’s perspective). Having a Doula can make it so that your partner feels less pressure, which allows them to participate at their own comfort level.
More often than not, partners really benefit from the help, advice, and reassurance that Doulas can provide. With a Doula present, they can take a guilt-free break, grab a bite to eat, or maybe even catch a quick nap if things have been progressing for a while.
Also, an added perk to having a Birth Doula.. if you decide you want to snap some pictures during labour, or right as your baby is brought onto your chest, or those first precious moments as a new family.. I can do that for you – which lets you actually be in the moment.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THERE ARE SOME KEY THINGS THAT DOULAS ARE NOT :
– Doulas are not medical professionals
– They do not give medical advice or diagnose conditions
– They do not perform clinical tasks such as physical exams or fetal heart monitoring
– They do not deliver babies
If you’re like me, and you love geek’ing out on statistics and fun facts, particularly relating to Doulas,
feel free to check out more information on Doulas of North America website
– www.dona.org –