When I first mentioned to people that we were having a Doula at our birth, we initially got some strange looks. There are some strange misconceptions around what Doulas are, and I wanted to share with you exactly why you need a Doula!
When I mentioned to my husband that we were going to interview a Doula for our birth, he chuckled at me. We were going to meet her at Starbucks for the first time. My husband literally expected a incredibly old lady. He also thought she would arrive in clogs, a long denim dress, braids in her hair and possibly by horse and buggy. This is serious. This is what my husband expected. To be quite honest, I am not sure I knew what to expect either, but it definitely was not that.
I knew I wanted a natural birth, and all of my natural mommies told me I HAVE to get a Doula. So I took their advice, did my research and met with a very well known professional in our town. Turns out, she was totally normal, had a great sense of humor and had birthed four amazing kids herself. She also teaches The Bradley Method Class – which, if you want a natural birth is a MUST!
What is a Doula?
A Doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.
What do Doulas offer?
- Physical Support. Doulas are trained and have many ideas of what positions to place the mother in not only for her comfort but for labor progression. They are skilled in hands-on techniques, such as counter pressure and comforting touch. They can also help with breathing support – this was one of my hugest things I needed help with during labor. It turns out during hard labor I would stop breathing and hold my breath which is horrible!
- Positioning Tools. Knowledge of using different “labor tools” can help reposition a malpositioned baby. These women know how to move you around to get that baby right where it needs to be to come out into your arms in a safe and effective way.
- Partner Support. They find ways to include your birth partner in the birth. They help them stay physically and emotionally involved if they want to be, and guide your partner with ways to help the mother while in labor. This was huge for us! My husband loved having our Doula at our birth. This was his first experience with anything even close to labor and delivery, and having someone who knows what to do and what is coming next is huge. She was able to keep us calm and explain the process.
- Emotional Support. Whether you are doing an unmedicated or a medicated birth, having someone there to simply cheer you on and be your friend can be calming itself. The medical staff at your place of birth may not understand your birth plan fully or where you are coming from, and your Doula can help with that.
- Someone to advocate based on information and evidence. They are trained and experienced in the stages of labor and delivery. When complications arise, they can step in and help you make a great decision for you and your baby. They can serve as a middle man of communication between you and your care provider.
- Postpartum Emotional Support. Having a baby is huge. Possibly one of the biggest adventures you will ever take. Most Doulas offer postpartum care, or some are specific only to postpartum care. My Doula has been there for me even still when I need her and my baby is 9 months old. I cannot promise everyone this length of care, but I happened to stumble upon a rock star of a lady!
- Newborn Support. Doulas are able to help with the typical newborn behavior and help navigate the new journey of parenthood. They can provide breastfeeding and bottle support, and I can say from my experience I needed this tremendously.
- Real-Life Daily Support. Some Doulas even offer household help in their contracts! They can help with house work, cooking, cleaning, laundry… whatever you specify. Who wouldn’t want this?!
- Family Support. Huge transitions happen when a new baby enters the home. There is no real way to prepare for how a baby can change your every day life. Doulas can help with supporting your marriage or with siblings that may already be in the home. Just having an extra voice and set of hands can be so helpful.
- Advice. Offering advice within their scope of practice. They can identify if you may be suffering from the baby blues or entering the realm of post partum depression. My Doula was a huge advocate and support line for me and my struggle after giving birth.
What the research shows
Mothers are more likely to have a positive birth experience.
Less likely to need pitocin or induction
They are less likely to need a cesarean.
Less likely to use any pain medication at all.
Why I love my Doula
My Doula has attended over 60 live births. I just think that is incredible. She is one of the kindest people I have ever met, and she has been there for me since the very beginning of my pregnancy. She answered just about any question you could imagine I had while pregnant. So many questions she probably wanted to get rid of me! She helped me through some of my darkest moments of post partum depression. Helping me with tons of breastfeeding questions and some struggles I have had in my journey. I honestly could never thank her enough, and I know if we have another baby I hope she will attend my birth if we are still around here. Having a Doula was one of the best decisions we made, as she was able to really help explain the birth process to us during labor and really help keep me calm and focused.
If you know a Doula, make sure you thank them today!
They are so amazing!
For those of you that have asked why we chose to have a Doula, I hope this answers some questions for you and helps you in making your own decision for your family!