What Is A Doula? (And Why You Should Have One During & After Birth)
In today's birthing world, doulas are all the rage. Although they've been around forever, mainstream medicine is finally catching up on the concept of having a doula by your side to support your body, mind and spirit throughout the entire birthing process, as well as afterward.
The word doula comes from an ancient Greek word that means, "Woman servant" or "caregiving." In modern times, a doula is someone who assists, coaches, supports, educates and nurtures a woman and her partner throughout the birthing process and afterwards. But many people don't really understand exactly what a doula's job is; I've had a few people ask me if doulas just do water births at home.
Not necessarily! Doulas can help you birth your baby at home, at birthing centers, in hospitals, with or without pain medication — even if you have a C-section, a doula can help wherever or however you choose to have your baby.
What do doulas do ?
1. They help prepare and educate both you and your partner for birth.
2. They help you create a unique birth plan that supports your wishes.
3. They stay with you nonstop, supporting you through the entire birth process.
4. They coach, guide and talk you through any emotional blocks or fears that might come up for you in birth.
5. They create a sacred, safe, protected and peaceful space with their energy, candles, aromatherapy and music.
6. They support you in your birth choices without judgment.
7. They provide encouragement and reassurance.
8. They help put you in birthing positions that are good for optimal fetal positioning
9. They give massages, visualizations, meditations, breath work, energy work, sounding and movement to help with pain management and comfort .
10. They advocate for the mother and her partner and can help facilitate better communication between the mother and her caregiver.
What doulas DON'T do:
- Doulas are NOT medical professionals, and don't preform medical exams, tasks, diagnose conditions or deliver babies.
- Doulas do not project their views onto you, and they NEVER judge you or make you feel bad for the choices and decisions you make.
Having a doula can help you:
- Reduce the possibility of Caesarian section
- Reduce the need for pain medication and epidurals
- Minimize the time of labor
- Reduce the need for use of vacuum
- Calm anxiety and reduce depression
- Help with confidence and self-esteem
What postpartum doulas do:
- Provide breastfeeding and bonding support
- Help with house chores, light cleaning and errands
- Support sleep by helping with the baby so you can rest
- Share information about baby care
- Nurture and care for the mother
- Infant massage
The birth of your child will be one of the most special and important days in your life. When choosing a doula, make sure you use your intuition to feel out if you vibe with their energy. It's their energy you'll be feeding off, and it will be present in the sacred birth space. Ask them questions to see if their philosophy is a match for yours.
A few other questions to ask:
- What training and experience do they have?
- Can you check a few of their references?
- Do they have or provide a back up doula incase for some reason they aren't available?
- What is their fee and what does this include?
- How often do you all meet and how do they offer support before and after the birth?
- Do they know of or have they ever worked with your doctor / midwife or at the place you are choosing to give birth?
- What labor support tools do they use to help with pain management?
- How did they get into being a doula and what do they love about doing this type of work?
This may seem like a lot of work, but ultimately it's well worth the effort required to find a quality doula to support you during the birthing process and beyond.