So what is a Doula anyway?
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. A doula fulfills this role of being a consistent, caring, supportive person during a family's transition from pregnancy to parenthood. She can help translate medical talk, reminding the parents of the pros and cons and natural alternatives of suggested interventions, reminding them of what they desired in their birth plan. Then the doula steps back and lets them decide what is best for them, continuing to support them with whatever they choose. A doula stays with the mother throughout the birth suggesting positional changes, giving massages, making sure she stays hydrated, empties her bladder frequently and offering emotional and other physical support. The doula continues to stay for about 1-2 hours after the baby is born to help in whatever way she can; offering breastfeeding support, getting nourishment for the mom and dad, taking pictures or promoting and protecting that special early bonding time. If the baby needs to go to the NICU, the dad is able to go with the baby and the mom is able to have a caring supportive person with her during this difficult separation.
It is my goal to provide information and resources leading up to childbirth so that you, the pregnant woman, and your partner can make well-informed decisions about the way in which you would like the birth of your baby to happen.
All pregnant women can benefit from the services of a Birth Doula. Medical studies have shown that women with supportive labor companions have better outcomes, shorter labors and need less pain medication than women who labor alone. Even if you have a labor coach, having a doula can be very beneficial. Your partner/labor coach may not have any experience with childbirth. A Birth Doula can help your partner be an effective and compassionate labor coach. We are not there to replace your partner. Instead, we are there to help the couple work together as a team. Having a Birth Doula gives you the opportunity to labor at home for longer than you would if you don’t have a doula, which can help contribute to fewer interventions because your labor will be better established before you even enter the hospital.
If you are choosing to have an epidural, a doula is still beneficial. Your need for comfort measures at the end of labor will be lessened with the epidural, but most doctors wait until labor is well-established before they will administer any medication. In this case, we are most effective at helping with the discomfort of early labor. Also, many women find that they need constant emotional support throughout labor, even with an epidural on board. If your partner is your sole continuous physical and emotional support, they could become drained and exhausted. Having a doula present allows your partner/labor coach some time to recharge so that they can be fully attentive to your needs.
If you are having a cesarean section, whether elective or emergency, a doula can give you information about the medications used and how they are administered, as well as information about recovery. And we can relay any information about the surgical procedure that you or your partner may not remember.
My job is not to replace expert medical care. A doula’s first concern is your comfort and reassurance. Doctors and nurses have many responsibilities and many patients. Nurses change shifts meaning you may have more than one nurse during your labor and delivery. Your doula is there beside you for the entire duration of your labor in the hospital.
I give you resources and information about labor and delivery, including what procedures may take place, what medications may be used, and how all of these things may affect you or your baby. This is strictly for you to make the most informed decisions possible for you, your birth, and your baby.
Most hospitals will allow you to have two support people present at your birth, one being your partner and the other a person of your choice, including a Birth Doula. It is always a good idea to check with your doctor as most like to know ahead of time who to expect to see in labor and delivery. Also, check with your hospital’s policies.