What is a doula anyway?
A doula is a professional labor companion who provides continuous emotional, physical, and informational support to a laboring woman and her partner.
How do you support a mom emotionally during labor?
I provide emotional support to my clients by establishing a sense of calm, peace, and normalcy during the birth process. I bring positivity and enthusiasm to a laboring mom who is worn out, reassurance and understanding to one who is fearful, humor and grace to the overwhelmed. I understand that each birth is special just as the needs of each family are unique.
What do you do to help a mom through the physical challenges of labor?
I assist with physical comfort measures, either by suggesting techniques that a partner can try or by doing them myself. I am trained in how to apply counter pressure to the low back and I know a wide variety of laboring and birth positions that are beneficial for both mom and baby. I encourage my clients to think of physical comfort in terms of all five senses, and then assist in implementing those comforting elements into the birth experience. For each woman, the balance of movement and rest is different. Sometimes we dance and lunge through contractions, sometimes we close our eyes and breathe. I rely heavily on both yoga asana (poses) and meditation at births.
Do you replace a mom's husband or partner?
I absolutely do not replace a birthing mom's partner. I work with couples during their pregnancy to establish our roles and figure out how we'll work as a team. While I have attended births for which I was the primary support person, typically I am there to offer suggestions for how a mom's partner can best support his or her partner in labor. Often I "tag in" when a break is needed. Dads and partners are often pleasantly surprised at how much a doula's presence can support them as much as their partner in labor.
How do you advocate for a mom and her partner?
"Advocate" is a tricky word when it comes to doula work. I do not speak on behalf of my clients and I do not tell them what to do. Doula advocacy during birth takes the form of informational support and gentle mediation. I aid in the flow of communication between hospital or birth center staff and my clients by ensuring that all necessary information is understood. I encourage my clients to share their birth plan openly, and gently support the explanation of any medically necessary interventions that come up. I advocate for my clients while maintaining a respectful and positive rapport with doctors, midwives, and nursing staff.
Do you provide any support after the baby is born?
While I am not a postpartum doula, I am well versed in what to expect during the first few days after your baby is born. I can assist with early breast or bottle feeding, help you navigate early medical choices for your baby (i.e. vitamin K shot), and make suggestions for your physical recovery. I care deeply about women's postpartum experiences and I will gladly share a wide variety of resources and services should you need them after baby is born.
I'm having a Cesarean birth. Do I still need a doula?
Birth is birth, whether you deliver vaginally or surgically. Having a doula attend your Cesarean birth can help make the experience more family centered and feel less like surgery. I have attended both planned and unplanned c-sections. While I don't end up providing as much physical support during these types of births, there is almost always an emotional need that I can hope to meet. On a personal note, women who give birth via Cesarean hold a special place in my heart since I delivered both of my daughters surgically.
I know I want an epidural. Can I still work with a doula?
I believe there is not one ideal way to give birth. Whether a mom wants an epidural, c-section, or a completely unmedicated experience is entirely up to her. Essentially, my agenda is my client's agenda. Any birthing woman who wants a doula should be able to have one present at her birth.
If you or your partner have other questions that I have not addressed here, please feel free to contact me.