What is a doula? Is that like a midwife?
No, a doula and a midwife are not the same thing! A midwife is a care provider, like an OBGYN, who sees to a woman’s clinical needs (tests, procedures, labs, measurements…etc) during pregnancy and delivery. A doula, on the other hand, is a trained labor support person who sees to your physical, emotional, and educational needs throughout pregnancy and birth. Doulas meet with you before the birth to discuss your birth preferences and practice comfort measures techniques, and are present throughout labor and delivery with the sole focus of taking care of you (and your partner).
What do doulas do?
A doula is sort of like a jack of all trades in the birth space. She might support you physically by providing counter pressure on your hips, massage on your head, or make sure you’re staying hydrated by regularly offering water. She might suggest you change positions, get up and walk for a bit, or rest on the birth ball. She might spoon ice chips in your mouth, or ask the nurse for a popsicle for you to suck on. When you’re feeling emotionally spent, she might take the time to reassure you of your strength, recite birth affirmations to you, or lead you in a relaxation script. She might whisper to your partner ways he can better support you, or leave the birth space altogether for a little while to give the two of you time to intimately connect. When you’re unsure of what to do next, she might remind you of the things you learned in class, what the informed consent questions are when a new procedure is suggested, or help you find information about a topic you don’t know much about. I think the better question in this case is, “What doesn’t a doula do?”
Does a doula replace my partner?
No! We work together to make sure you have all your needs met so that you can focus solely on birthing that baby. While doulas have specific support training that we utilize, one of the most important aspects of support comes from your partners who has established intimacy with you. We know the technical stuff, but your partner knows you. With our combined unique expertise, you’ll have all your bases covered! In fact, doulas love helping partners look like the rockstars they are! Any chance we get to encourage your partner to get in there and support you, we take it.
Do I need a doula if I’m not having a natural birth?
I may be slightly biased, but most doulas will tell you with resounding excitement that, yes, you need a doula no matter what kind of birth you’re having! As detailed above, a doula does so much more than just pat you on the back and say, “There, there! You’ll be fine.” We support you in all aspects of labor and delivery. You’re not going to have an epidural the second you walk into the hospital, right? A doula helps while you’re waiting for the anesthesiologist to arrive. Your body still needs to be in an optimal position for baby to descend, right? A doula can help with position changes. What about immediately postpartum when you’re cold, hungry, or need help breastfeeding? Having a doula there is essential! If you’re having a cesarean, who is going to stay with you while your partner goes with baby? Doulas have a variety of skills that can be utilized in every birthing scenario.