Should I hire a doula?
To answer this question you must first explorer the type of birth you want what is your goal? Do you plan on just following doctor’s medical recommendations? Do you have a specific birth plan that she would very much like for medical professionals to follow? Do you want a natural birth, a medicated birth, or cesarean? Do you have a support system in place be it a partner, a mother, a sister, or an aunt?
Doulas come in many shapes and forms and offer many different services. The word “doula” actually means “a female servant or caregiver.” In modern times, we use it to refer to women who physically, mentally and emotionally support women before, during and after birth. The most well-known service a doula offers is support during labor and delivery but they can help during your pregnancy antepartum they can help postpartum while you recover they can help with sibling care during labor and delivery or they can even help with lactation services and bereavement services in the case of a loss.
What is the primary purpose of a doula?
The short answer is simply support. Doulas are fantastic for women with no or little support system to work through one of the most challenging transitions in a woman’s life. Even if there is a support system in place, they can be helpful for an extra set of hands or someone that is just knowledgeable and practice in emotional and mental support during the transition to mother. You can ask around and get recommendations for local doulas from friends. If you are local to Columbia, South Carolina you can find a list here.
What does a doula do?
It depends on what you want her to do. This list is by no means comprehensive, but will give you a good idea of all the hats that doulas wear.
- Emotional, physical and mental support for the mother and her family
- Open communication between mother and doctor and helps inform on her choices
- Reinforces decisions made by the mother and encourages sticking to the birth plan when possible
- Provides information and resources on various options to help achieve informed consent.
- Accommodates the birth environment including music, lighting and atmosphere to the mother’s wishes
Their primary role is to be a support system and empower the mother through birth and early motherhood. Doulas can help the establish birth team catch supplies that usually bring their own kit that includes tools to make the mom as comfortable as possible during labor delivery. They can do various massages or apply pressure during labor. Doulas can help out around the house doing simple house chores cooking cleaning laundry or whatever you deem appropriate. They can also be there in cases of bereavement to help support emotionally and mentally as the family settles into this tragic circumstance.
What does a doula NOT do
Provide medical advice or practice medicine. A doula is not a doctor and is not necessarily a midwife. She cannot diagnose, treat or make medical decisions. Blood pressure, cervical checks and other tasks related to medical interventions are left to the medical team.
Doulas do not replace the partner or any part of the birth team. If a supportive partner, family or friend is the primary coach, the doula naturally becomes their support as well and allows them to take the lead.
There is no shift work. Doulas show up and stay for the duration of the birth. They are not like a nurse that clocks out at a certain time. Doulas stay for the long haul and only leave when their job is done.
Real Testimonies from Real Women
“I was in a really small town with very little choice of how and where I could birth. I was unexpectedly pregnant and really freaked out. It was a total stroke of luck that my small town had a Doula, actually the only Doula in 100 miles of me. She recognized my high anxiety and backed me 100% during my son’s birth and kept everyone away from me so I could do my thing. She was the reason I birthed like a badass, rock star and found my power which affected my whole life from that point on. THAT’S why I wanted to be a Doula.
I went from being dis-empowered to be empowered all because my Doula had my back and supported me through everything! I want to do this for every mother I meet. I want to do this every day of my life. I believe that raising healthy children starts with a healthy mother. Our world needs healthy, badass, strong, compassionate, educated, and empowered mothers!” – Kristie Norwood, mother and doula
“I knew I wanted one so bad I got her before I was pregnant. She spent time with us before birth really getting to know us, what we wanted, what our vision was, she never judged, asked questions, and was such a sense of peace. I think for the first time around I was super confident and comfortable with a natural birth but my husband was not.
He was nervous and I sensed that. He followed my lead but during birth I didn’t want to be the “strong” one for all the “what if’s.” I needed someone to help him support me. If that makes sense. She had built such relationship with him too that I knew he would trust her guidance. She came to our house when I decided it was time to have her there. Her presence was quiet but strong. I later learned she guided my husband to guide me to make the choice to head to the birth center (stayed home for the second one!) She made it about me without being…intense. I knew she was there but it was almost like she wasn’t. Her presence was strong but her voice was soft. If that makes sense?
It was just my husband for support for me directly so when he needed to go to the bathroom she slid right into his place to support me so I was never alone. If I needed water she got it to give to him to give to me…so I was never alone. I had a camera out and said whomever wanted to take pics please do. She took quite a few. I told her I didn’t want any “crotch shots” but she said I could always delete them if she got any. I’m so damn glad she did. Not that I’m gonna share them, but it was so powerful to SEE my body doing something so amazing.
I pushed for 6 1/2 hours with my first. I felt his head for a good 5 hours of it. Turns out he had a neuchal hand. She showed me the pics between contractions so I could visualize how close he was and encouraged me to feel his head. She saw me getting tired and knew I needed some energy. This was so helpful. She came to check on us after we were home and settled instead of us going to her. She assured me everything I was doing was right even though I didn’t know what I was doing. She never doubted me. Her faith in my encouraged me to have faith in myself. When I got pregnant the second time I asked my husband if he really thought we needed one since we had already done it. He looked at me like I was crazy and said “umm…yes.” HA! She wasn’t just “for me.” She was what ever I needed her to be.Destiny Hornstein, mother and blogger at Just a Girl Who Believes