I have to admit, when I tell people I am a doula most people normally have no idea what a doula is. Even when I type in doula in Microsoft Word, the program does not recognize it! So this is my elevator speech: A doula is a non-medical support person hired by an expectant woman/family to help navigate the intricacies of pregnancy and birth.
Doulas offer support, bottom line. They help women and families understand birth better so that they are educated and can make sound decisions for themselves, no matter the type of birth they envision. Many women who have hired doulas, say they feel like they were in charge of the decisions surrounding their birth, even if the birth did not quite turn out as they had planned. And when women feel confident in their birth decisions, it has been proven they feel confident in motherhood and can have an easier time transitioning into caring for their new little one. Pregnancy and birth shape a baby and mother in more ways than science can possibly understand. And when stress is reduced, it benefits both mom and baby. A doula can be the bridge between an expecting family and the unknowns of pregnancy.
You can expect the following services from most doulas:
- Nonjudgmental support surrounding the decisions you make regarding your pregnancy and birth.
- Evidence based information on anything you have questions on or are unsure about.
- Ways in which your birth partner can support you during pregnancy and labor.
- Continuous physical and emotional support during labor including natural pain relief techniques, relaxation techniques, controlled breathing, and encouragement.
- Reprieve support during labor, for when your partner may need a break.
- Breastfeeding support shortly after birth, if you choose to breastfeed.
- Postpartum visits to discuss the birth and to check on your general well being.
- References to other professionals such as lactation consultants, chiropractors who specialize in pregnancy care, acupuncturists, massage therapists, birth photographers, etc.
In short, doulas mother the mother. To hire a doula, is to provide yourself with a gift that goes well beyond birth and pregnancy and will continue to benefit you throughout motherhood.