Doula: n. a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during and just after childbirth.
What exactly is a doula?
A doula is woman experienced in supporting a Mama both emotionally and physically throughout her journey into motherhood. As a birth doula, it is my passion to help empower every Mama to create her own vision of the kind of birth she hopes to have, and support her throughout her journey by providing evidence-based information to help her prepare, continuous physical and emotional support and encouragement throughout labor and birth, and immediate postpartum care.
Why should I hire a doula?
Studies have shown that a doula’s presence at birth….
• tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
• reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
• reduces the need for pitocin, forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
• reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals
And research shows that parents who receive support:
• Feel more secure and cared for
• Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
• Have greater success with breastfeeding
• Have greater self-confidence
• Have less postpartum depression
For more evidence-based info on why hiring a doula is a good idea, check out: http://evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas/
What can I expect with you as my doula?
Preparation: My intention is to help support you through your own pregnancy and birth journey in a way that will leave your mind, body and spirit feeling empowered, blissful and ready. I offer a complementary meeting for us to get to know one another, answer any questions you and your partner may have for me, and decide if it is a good fit. If and when you decide I am the doula for you, we will schedule 1-2 prenatal visits during which we will discuss your vision for your birth experience and create a birth plan, outline what you'd like my role to be, answer any questions you and your partner may have by providing evidence-based information and resources, and discuss what kinds of relaxation techniques work best for you.
Labor & Birth: Once labor begins, as soon as you feel you need me, I will be there to support you in any way needed, and create a safe and peaceful space to help both you and your partner feel calm, confident and relaxed. As things start to intensify, I will be there to offer encouragement and reassurance, and help you relax and manage both the physical and emotional intensity of labor through massage, positioning, accupressure, guided visualization, rebozo techniques and aromatherapy. And if things don't go exactly as planned, I will be there to keep both you and your partner calm and focused, and aide in facilitating communication between the birthing Mama and her care providers.
Postpartum: After baby arrives, I will come to your home for 1-2 postpartum visits to help ease your transition into motherhood.
I will offer techniques and suggestions to help with your physical comfort and promote postpartum healing, provide herbal teas to promote internal healing and lactation, offer breastfeeding support, and help you deal with any other postpartum issues that may arise.
Additional postpartum services available to comfort and promote healing include: healing herbal baths, belly binding, and placenta medicine (encapsulation, smoothies, tinctures).
Will having a doula at my birth take away from the role of my partner?
I hear this question a lot, and the short answer is: ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Sometimes an expecting Mama may think she doesn't need a doula because she will already have a supportive partner present at her birth. And for many birthing Mamas, her partner is absolutely the most essential support person to have by her side. But no matter how much preparation and education your partner may have, (or even if they've "been through it before"), their knowledge about birth, medical procedures and how to help is limited to their own experiences, and every labor and birth is different than the one before it.
And even when your partner is totally prepared, when the moment finally does come it can sometimes be a little overwhelming, leading to feelings of helplessness when the woman they love is going through such an intense experience they can't "fix". And that is when having a doula can be particularly helpful, for instead of taking away from the crucial role your partner will play, she will be there to help encourage you both, empower your partner by making suggestions about positions and techniques to try, and give him or her the tools, knowledge and confidence needed to help you both experience the birth you've envisioned.
Thus, by working together, doulas and partners can provide a laboring Mama with the most continuous and comprehensive support possible.