Doula's are God's gift to laboring women and I'm not just saying that because I am one! That is why I became one though. After the birth of my first son, during which I ended up having two doula's present (you can read more about it here), I realized just how impactful the role of a doula can be and I wanted to be able to help other couples the way my doulas had helped my husband and me. So, for today's post I want to tell you a little bit more about what a doula does and why I think they are one of the best investments you can make for your birth.
What is a Doula?
The word “Doula” is actually a Greek term meaning “with woman.” The job of a doula is to support the birthing mother as well as her partner in navigating the birthing process. Doulas are trained in emotional and physical support for labor but are not medical professionals. They will help you figure out what positions to get into, how to keep labor progressing, massage you, put pressure where you need it and encourage you along the way, but they won't be checking your cervix or listening to baby's heartbeat. Their job is to support and help carry out your choices for labor.
Why is a Doula so Valuable?
You know all those great childbirthing classes I recommended a few weeks ago? Well, to be honest, a lot of what you learned will completely escape you once active labor hits and it will definitely escape your husband! The information is still in your heads but since your attention is diverted to the intensity of what you are experiencing and your husband is busy being concerned for you, it can be very difficult to make sense of everything in the moment, that is, unless you have a trained birth professional there to remind you of what you learned!
Hence- the doula! A doula can gently remind you and daddy that what you are experiencing is normal and help you recall the ways you learned to help get you through it. A doula has (usually) been through birth herself, can empathize with you but also be firm in helping you remember your vision for birth and staying focused. Since she is not emotionally involved as much as your husband (or mother, or sister, or best friend, etc…) she is usually able to see things more clearly and help you to more objectively weigh decisions in labor.
In addition, the support given to you by a doula will dramatically decrease your chances of unnecessary intervention, including (unwanted) epidurals, episiotomies, forceps and c-sections. Studies have also shown that women who have a doula attend their birth often feel more gratification over their entire birth experience and have less incidents of postpartum mood disorders.
Why Dads Love Doulas!
After my first birth my husband sang our doulas' praises more than even I did! Because they were there, he felt the freedom to be my emotional support and not have to remember all of the details of how things should go. He could help me with getting in different positions that they recommended and encourage me but the nitty-gritty was really up to them. It took tremendous stress off of him while still allowing him to be very involved! It was the absolute best of both worlds.
What You Shouldn't Expect from Your Doula
As I mentioned, she won't be doing anything medical but you also shouldn't expect that just because you are hiring a doula you will instantly have your dream birth. You still have to put in the work to becoming knowledgeable about your birth choices in order for things to go smoothly. After all, if you haven't learned how to deal with labor or what things you would prefer for your birth beforehand, there will be nothing for her to be able to remind you of during! Believe me, it's much easier to remember something you've already learned in the throws of contractions than trying to learn something from scratch! (Ask me how I know!)
Go Find Your Doula!
Just as with your other attendants and care providers, I recommend interviewing a number of doulas until you find the one you are most comfortable with AND who hold similar beliefs on birth as you do. You want someone who puts you at ease and is able to fully support your choices. The best doula in the world may not be the right doula for you. Ask around, get recommendations. Generally, midwives, lactation consultants, breastfeeding support groups, babywearing groups and other typically “crunchy” mama organizations are good places to start your search. And remember, they are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them (which is a good thing) to make sure the relationship will be compatible all the way around!
So, go find your doula and get the support you need!
Join the Conversation
Are you keeping up with the entire 31 Days of Bellies, Birth and Babies from a Doula’s Perspective series? Go to this page for the full list of posts so far and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any more! Also, please come join the “Ask the Doula” conversation on the FB page!
You can also email me at boldturquoise at gmail dot com or go to this page if you would like more information about private classes and consultations (also available via FaceTime and Google+ Live Hangouts) or having me speak at one of your upcoming events!
You can contact me in the same ways I just mentioned if you would like more information about getting wholesale prices on Young Living Essential Oils as well as free personal essential oils coaching!
And Here is my YL#, just in case you want it:1409144
*I am not a medical professional- just a mom and doula sharing from my experiences and research.