If you’re pregnant, you might know what a doula is or at least heard the title before.
Oftentimes after being asked what I do and responding with, “I’m a doula.” I get the quizzical look and the question, “A dou-what?” If you’re asking yourself that question right now, let me explain. A doula is a trained childbirth professional who offers emotional, physical, and informational support to birthing women. I feel like I have the best job in the whole world! Now, some might assume that since I’m a doula, I didn’t need one at my own birth… but actually, no. Having my own doula at my birth was so crucial in my positive birth experience. Here are 5 reasons I hired a doula!
1. Doulas Build a Relationship with Families during Pregnancy In most hospital or birth center settings whoever is on call at the onset of labor will be the ones delivering your baby. It’s rare that you will be able to choose which midwife, doctor, or nurses will be present at your birth. And, at bigger hospitals it’s likely you haven’t even met the person who is staring into your birth canal as your baby emerges. Sound a little uncomfortable? Enter: the doula. While the doula isn’t able to change who is in the room with you, she is able to offer you something the other medical professionals can’t: a relationship. Doulas typically meet with families a couple of times before labor begins to get to know you and understand your birth goals. My doula, Stephanie, and I had an immediate connection. The relationship we have is one that I trusted and found comfort in as I took on the challenges of birth with Nora and Luke.
2. A Doula is a Constant Support for the Mother In a perfect world, everyone around the birthing woman would cater to her needs as she accomplishes one of the most demanding feats of her life. However, this is not always the case. The medical staff will most likely have several other patients who demand their attention as well. Having a doula ensures that you will have a constant support helping you find comfortable positions, encouraging you, offering you ice chips, and anticipating all of your needs along the way. When the baby is born, a doula doesn’t rush off to tend to the baby, but stands by your side wiping the sweat from your forehead telling you how strong and beautiful you are. Don’t you wish you could have a doula everyday, telling you those things?
3. Support for the Partner The birthing woman is not the only person facing challenges in labor. Labor can be a very difficult time for the birth partner as well, as they watch their loved one experience intense discomfort and possibly feelings of fear and self doubt. Partners can often feel unprepared and helpless, unsure of how to help their loved one. A doula provides the birth partner with techniques and tools to help the birthing woman making the parter feel proactive and useful. The birth partner plays an imperative and irreplaceable role in the birth process. I couldn’t have had the birth I desired without my husband by my side. The doula never replaces them, but shares the responsibility with the birth partner so they can use the bathroom or get a bite to eat without feeling like they’ve abandoned their loved one in labor.
4. Doulas Help Shorten Labor Time SPOILER ALERT: Giving birth takes a long time! Like a looooong time. Early labor alone can take around 6-12 hours, and as your body moves through the stages of preparing for birth (active labor, transition, and pushing/delivery) it does so at a generally slow pace, especially for a first time mom. Having a doula by your side has shown to decrease labor by an average of 41 minutes. 41 minutes might not seem like a lot of time to you right now, but in labor, every second counts. How does a doula do this? I’d like to say time travel, but no, it’s much more practical. A doula helps the birthing woman to calmly work with her body to ease her baby into the world. With encouragement, pain coping techniques, and a trustworthy relationship, the birthing woman feels safe and prepared, allowing her body to progress more quickly.
5. Doulas Facilitate Conversation Between Families and their Care Provider I don’t know about you, but there have been times I’ve walked out of a doctor’s office feeling like they were speaking a foreign language to me the whole appointment. Why are medical terms so long and scary sounding? “Patient has a large contusion on their left humerus”… A bruise. I have a bruise on my arm. Can’t you just say bruise?! This can be potentially scary to a first time mom who has never experienced anything like birth before. A doula encourages women to ask their care providers questions and to remind them of their birth goals. While a doula never speaks on behalf of the family, she will foster positive communication between you and the medical staff. In doing so, the family, doula, and medical staff become a more cohesive team striving to accomplish your birth goals.
Whether this is your first or tenth birth, a doula can play an indispensable role in helping you achieve your birth goals. These 5 reasons are central goals for most doulas, but every doula also brings a unique set of talents and abilities to aid you in having a positive birth experience. Choosing Stephanie as my doula was one of the best things I did for my births; and picking the right doula for you and your family will bring you one step closer to loving your birth!
Nervous About Adding a “Stranger” to your Birth Team?
I understand it can be intimidating to invite someone you don’t yet know into your birthing space. This is why I offer a FREE CONSULTATION to make sure we are a good fit for each other, discuss your goals for your pregnancy and birth, and answer any questions you might have.