What is an Antepartum Doula?
An antepartum doula is a professional trained to support and assist high-risk pregnant women (on or off bed rest) who are at risk of going into preterm labor and delivering a premature infant. Antepartum Doula support is especially helpful for mothers experiencing either home or hospital bed-rest during her pregnancy. The goal of the Antepartum Doula is to help her clients to get as close to full term in their pregnancies as possible and to deliver healthy (full term) babies but also to support mothers who deliver their babies prematurely, in complicated situations, or experience a loss.
What do Antepartum Doulas do?
Antepartum Doulas are very similar to Postpartum Doulas. They provide home care for pregnant women who are unable to meet their home care needs themselves. Part of the role of the Antepartum Doula is to make being on bed rest or activity restriction as comfortable and easy to adhere to as possible. Antepartum doulas do light housekeeping, make meals, grocery shop, run errands provide local resources, and care for and support the expectant mother while she is “sidelined”. An Antepartum Doula can also help you prepare for what to expect in a complicated or premature delivery, procedures in the NICU, and for bringing home a premature baby after a stay in the NICU.
The key Parts to the care that Antepartum Doulas provide are:
Making Healthy Meals and Snacks
Antepartum Doulas are aware that their maybe dietary restrictions due to Gestational Diabetes Mellitus, Pregnancy Induced Hypertension or any other metabolic problem. We are careful to help make meals that won’t exacerbate these conditions.
Helping mothers to be more comfortable in bed
Antepartum Doulas know how to add pillows and position mamas so they don’t develop additional pain, stiffness or in the worst case, bed sores.
Sibling Care or Support
Antepartum doulas can not only provide hands on care for siblings, but also helps them understand and cope with such a disruption in the family that can accompany a complicated pregnancy or premature birth in appropriate terms and on their level .
Antepartum Doulas are happy to provide light household cleaning such as loading and unloading the dishwasher, washing, folding and putting away laundry, and generally straighten up your home and keep things sane. If necessary, we can also help you locate more through cleaning services. Antepartum Doulas run simple errands, arrange meal trains (with dietary needs guidance), help with setting up your nursery and shop for the things you will need for yourself and baby postpartum.
Strong Emotional Support
High-risk pregnancies are almost always unexpected and are usually no fault of the mother. However, most women will spend endless hours wondering if they in some way caused the situation that has resulted in the risk to their unborn babies. Much of the work of an Antepartu Doula is being present and just listening. Antepartum Doulas bring a sense of calm and practice relaxation skills with mamas like deep breathing, affirmations, and meditation to help them cope with or avoid stress that could cause them to go into preterm labor.
Antepartum Doulas are not medical providers and therefore do not preform any kind of medical procedures but they do have a wide range of resources available to support you such as Registered Dietitians/Nutritionists to receive specific dietary instructions, a Physical Therapist if a woman is having mobility issues, Chiropractic Care, Acupuncture, Massage Therapists etc.
Preparation for the possible outcomes of a complicated pregnancy
Google can be your best friend or your worst nightmare depending on what kind of information you might be looking for. Some of the ways an Antepartum Doula also support a family with a high risk or complicated pregnancy by helping sift through the information and dispelling myths about your condition. We provide only evidence based researched information and answer your questions. We also provide a risk benefit model to procedures you might experience in the hospital. Some of the general topics we cover are:
Preparing for a premature cesarean (prior to 36 weeks).
Preparing for a premature vaginal birth
What to expect in the NICU
What to expect in bringing home a premature baby
Many times, an Antepartum Doula is also trained as a Birth Doula and/or a Postpartum Doula and will continue working to support a family in those different roles as long as needed.