Congratulations! You're pregnant! Now what?
You begin to Google “baby this” and “baby that” and start to feel overwhelmed by all the information. I know, its a lot. Have you considered hiring a doula to help navigate all things related to having a baby?
A what? What’s a doula? Let me tell you!
The word “doula” /doo-la/ is derived from the Greek meaning “female servant”. It is also known as a birth companion, birth coach, or post-birth support. Doulas are non-medical and trained to support a woman before, during and after childbirth. Doulas provide emotional, physical and educational support to a woman’s partner and family.
Essentially, we reduce fear and instill strength.
Many people have heard the word “doula" but maybe thought “those are for home births, right?”, “I have a midwife already so don't need a doula", “I'm not having a natural birth, I'm getting an epidural” or “the nurses will be with me, helping us".
Doulas are not just for a home birth or unmedicated/ ”natural” birth. Doulas support every type of birth from unmedicated, medicated, vaginal, planned/unplanned cesarean, home birth, hospital or birth center. Heck if you told me you wanted to have your baby in a field with rainbows and unicorns, I would be there! My point is, doulas are there for non-judgmental support for all types of birth. A doula is part of your support team and there to work with your provider (Midwife or Obstetrician), nurses and/or partner, friends, and family. Those fabulous nurses would love to stay by your side the entire time you are in labor but the reality is, they can't, they're too busy. Not only does having a doula provide support prenatally, but your doula will arrive to support you while in labor, without shift changes, and remain until your baby is born. A doula can help support your partner along the way too. Making sure they are informed, nourished, rested and hydrated. Yes, your partner needs those things too! I always tell partners this is important because when it's time to meet baby, they're fully present. If your partner steps out to eat, make a call or just go for a walk, you are never left alone because your doula is there. I had a partner who was asked “why do you have a DOULA?” and the partner said “The doula is my consultant! I don't know about all this stuff!”. It's like when someone hires a wedding planner for their big day, we help for the arrival of your baby.
During your pregnancy, your doula is there to answer any questions or address any concerns that may come up during your pregnancy. They can help you have a better understanding of labor and delivery, the hospital or birth center and the postpartum period. The doula will come to your home for prenatal visits and discuss everything from your birth preferences or “birth plan", comfort techniques, baby gear, postpartum, address your fears and concerns and MORE! Once you are in labor, your doula will come and stay until your baby is born. The doula will then will come when you are home to check in to see how you are feeling/doing and how everyone is transitioning as a new family.
A Postpartum doula is there to help when you are home with your baby. Postpartum doulas can support you during the day or even overnight for some much-needed sleep.
Postpartum doulas help you with all things related to newborn care, adjusting to motherhood, breastfeeding, bottle feeding, making sure you are fed, rested, hydrated, do light housework and be a non-judgmental ear to listen.
How do I find a doula?
The best way to find a birth or postpartum doula is by checking with organizations that train and certify doulas like ProDoula. Call your doctor or midwife, childbirth educator, other moms or local hospitals or birth centers to see if they have any doula recommendations. Remember when choosing a doula ask their training/credentials, references and what inspired them to become a doula. Your doula should not try to impose their beliefs or own philosophy about birth. They should be able to work well with the rest of your birth team and support your vision for the big day.
There is no pass or fail, the right or wrong way to give birth. This is a day that you meet your beautiful baby and you'll remember forever. You will tell this story again and again and it should be one that evokes positive emotions, feelings of love and empowerment.
You got this mama and we will be there for you every step of the way!
Blog written by: Mari Leckel
Birth/Postpartum & Infant Care Doula/Certified Lactation Counselor/Childbirth Educator
Owner of Boston Birth Associates a full-service doula agency.
Mom of two amazing daughters.