A doula is someone who is professionally trained in childbirth, who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to help women have a positive birthing experience. It’s important to know that although doulas have a wealth of information and are knowledgeable in many aspects of labor, that they do not provide any type of medical care. Doulas are not part of the pregnant woman’s medical team; we are part of the support team.
During labor, the doula will always be close by to provide comfort with pain relief techniques like breathing, relaxation, massage, and support during various labor positions. It’s also important to note that it’s not the doula’s role to take the place of the pregnant woman’s partner, but more to complement and enhance the experience for both people.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST START GETTING INTO THE DOULA WORLD?:
I began getting into the doula world in August of 2019, which is when I completed my training.
WHY ARE DOULAS SO IMPORTANT?:
Doulas are important because there are many studies showing that there are definite benefits to having a doula present during the birth experience. Women are reporting higher rates of positive birth experiences when they have a doula present. Benefits include reduced needs for medical interventions, a decrease in rates of caesarian births (C-sections), and a shorter length of labor. Additionally, there are reduced requests for pain medications and epidurals.
HOW CAN A DOULA BETTER PREPARE ME FOR MY BIRTHING JOURNEY?:
Doulas are extremely helpful in preparing new moms through their educational support. In times like these with COVID, where birthing classes are hard to come by, the doula can provide missing information that is needed, as well as answer questions about what labor is, how your body changes during labor, and what to expect.
A large part of what I do is working with the pregnant woman to create a birth plan, which is your map of what you want your birth experience to be like. The birth plan can be used to inform your providers, nurses, and anyone else that’s going to be taking care of you during your birth experience with what you desire for your birthing space. Things like a request for dim lighting in your space or a certain type of music playing are noted in the plan.
The birthing plan is also used to address how you want to handle any medical interventions that might have to happen during the birth, if you’re going to have a support person there, and it lets the medical staff know of any current medical conditions you have. Overall, the birth plan is a huge part of what I do to help clients prepare for their birth experience.
HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE CLIENTS ON A ONE-ON-ONE BASIS?:
Encouragement happens during the first two appointments that we have before the client gives birth. It consists of me listening to what the client is feeling, what their fears are, what their concerns are, and what they’re excited about. I use this time to lead those conversations with empathy and love. Every person’s birth experience is different.
I think it is important for me to approach those conversations in that way, and see how it is that I can best support that person. We can discuss any fears they have about being respected in the birthing space, the fear of not having a support person there, and what that might feel like.
This also serves as a time to let them talk and voice that maybe they’re scared to be a new mom and what that might look like for them. These appointments allow us to work together so that I can see how to best support each client individually.
AS AN AWPC CLIENT, HOW MUCH WOULD DOULA SERVICES COST FOR ME?
Doula services do not cost anything; they are absolutely free! The services I provide between the first “meet and greet” appointment, to the two prenatal appointments where we create your birth plan are free. I go on call for you at 38 weeks, and am present at the hospital during the birth. After you give birth, I stay for a few hours, and later provide two postpartum home visits if you so desire. All of these things are at no cost to you as a client of A Women’s Pregnancy Center.
WHY IS WORKING WITH A DOULA AN EMPOWERING EXPERIENCE FOR WOMEN?
Of all the ways that birth outcomes could be improved, continuous labor support seems to be one of the most important and basic needs for birthing mothers. There is a lot of research showing that labor support from doulas is completely risk-free, and it is also highly effective in creating a positive birth experience.