What is a Doula?

What is a Doula, and What Exactly Do I Do?

A birth doula is a professional labor companion who supports a woman and her partner from late pregnancy until shortly after birth, with the main part of the doula’s role taking place during labor and delivery. Postpartum doulas help families adjust to the demands of having a new baby by providing lactation support to breastfeeding moms, answering questions about routine newborn care, and helping the family with cooking and cleaning so that the parents can rest as much as possible.

I am a trained birth doula. I provide emotional, physical, informational, advocacy, and partner support. Here’s what that means:

  • Emotional
    • Continuous support. This is one of the hallmarks of doula care. From the time I join you in labor when you call me, I will not leave your side unless extreme circumstances force me to. Research shows that the non-stop presence of supportive people improves outcomes for mothers and babies and leads women to reflect on their births more positively, even after long or difficult labors.
    • Encouragement. You have what it takes to birth your baby, and I will remind you of that whenever you doubt yourself!
    • Empathy. I have given birth twice myself, and everything was not perfect in either situation. I have experienced physical and emotional difficulties that are normal to having children and some that are entirely abnormal such as having a preemie who lived apart from me for two months. Having babies is hard work. I can relate.
    • Sympathy. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Sometimes they are quite the opposite of what you dreamed. I will never shame you for crying or for being disappointed. It is perfectly ok to be sad when things don’t go your way. I will be sad with you.
  • Physical
    • I can provide and suggest comfort measures for labor such as sacral counterpressure, comforting touch, rebozo support techniques, movements to help labor progress or slow down, positions for labor and pushing, etc.
    • Basic lactation support for breastfeeding mothers
  • Informational
    • I am constantly working to increase my understanding of the physiology of pregnancy and birth, and I can pass on what I learn to you through conversation or recommending print and digital resources to you
    • I can provide you with resources to help you make informed decisions, including access to my lending library of books and electronic resources.
    • I can recommend area resources related to pregnancy, birth, and newborn care, including IBCLCs for lactation questions beyond my expertise, dentists trained to identify and correct tongue tie, pediatricians, midwives, chiropractors and massage therapists skilled in treating pregnant women, and many more.
  • Advocacy
    • I can remind you and/or your partner of your wishes if it looks like the management of your care may deviate from them and encourage you to ask questions
    • I can remind you to ask the “Key Questions” at decision points throughout pregnancy, labor, and postpartum
    • I will facilitate communication between you and your providers as needed, but I will not communicate with your providers for you
  • Partner
    • I will teach your partner comfort measures listed above (this is the focus of prenatal meeting #2)
    • I can provide relief for your partner to be able to grab a snack, use the bathroom, or take a rest
    • I will lead you and your partner through exercises to help you form your birth plan together (this is the focus of prenatal meeting #1)
    • I can help bear the emotional and physical toll that comes with pregnancy and birth along with your partner

What Doulas Don’t Do

  1. Perform clinical tasks, such as blood pressure, fetal heart checks, vaginal exams, and others. I am there to provide only physical comfort and emotional support.
  2. Make decisions for you. I will help you get the information necessary to make an informed decision, and I will ask you whether you’re comfortable with decisions that arise that may deviate from your birth plan.
  3. Speak to the staff on your behalf. I will discuss your concerns with you and suggest questions to ask, but you or your partner must speak directly to the clinical staff.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about my practice or booking a free consultation, Contact Me!

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