Maybe you’ve heard of a doula from reading a baby magazine or read it in a pregnancy and birth book, but you have no idea what a doula actually is, or what they do or if such a person really exists! Well, hopefully this article will shed a bit of light on the subject.
You can get many different doulas such as birth, postnatal or even doulas who support families through end of life care. This article will examine the role of birth doulas. By definition a doula is a non-medical person who is trained in pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. Doulas offer emotional, physical and informational support.
But instead of a very clinical, cold and dry definition, let's unpack this with a bit of intensity-because isn’t that what pregnancy can be?!
From the time you hire your doula, you have access to their informational prowess. They will provide you with unbiased, evidence based information, helping you choose the best way forward for YOU, not the hospital, nor the care providers, nor for your doula, but you. Your choices and preferences are to be respected and honoured throughout your perinatal period, and with the help of your doula, you will know and understand what options are available. You don’t know what you don’t know, so having a doula is invaluable in this regard.
There have been many studies that have taken place over the years showing how continual care and support benefits the birthing woman:
Because the woman feels empowered, there is less fear and anxiety, which in turn leads to less pain, and surrendering to her labour process. Naturally this leads to less use of epidurals and interventions, decreased caesarean section rates, shorter labours and a high satisfaction for the mother.
Having a doula with you (alongside your birth partner if you have one) really does make an amazing team. Knowing you, your cares and concerns and the road you have travelled to bring you to this life changing event will add to the sweetness of your experience, and heighten your experience in becoming a positively empowered mother.
Being pregnant can bring a lot of emotion and uncertainty. When hiring a doula, it is so important that you and your doula ‘click’. You will be allowing them into a very sacred and vulnerable space in your life, and you need to be able to trust them, knowing they have your best interests at heart.
Your doula will be supporting you when you question yourself, when you are unsure or confused. Having a doula is like pouring oil onto turbulent waters, they calm and re-assure. No matter what type of birth you have, from home-birth to caesarean section, your doula will be there by your side to support you.
During labour a doula will be able to provide you with amazing comforting options. From massage, rebozo techniques (traditional Mexican tool for comfort using a hand woven ‘scarf’), optimal positions to help baby descend, and for birthing your baby, relaxation and breathing. Your doula will feed you when you are hungry, place a cold compress on your neck to cool you down. Offer counter-pressure if you are experiencing back pain. They will walk with you, climb stairs with you, a doula would jump over the moon for you if they could. Really though, a doula will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes to ensure your birth (whatever the outcome) is a positive experience for you.
Why wouldn’t you hire a doula?