What's a doula?
I get asked what a doula is all the time. My automatic response is that I provide emotional, physical, and informational support to pregnant, laboring, and new parents, but really, what does that tell you? Not much.
I've been right where you are, pregnant and confused, scared, anxious, excited, worried... Our culture does a great job of leading women to believe that birth is one way: painful and unpleasant. What a negative expectation for something that could be beautiful, peaceful, and empowering! Even a long, arduous labor can be remembered as a positive experience.
As a doula, my first and foremost goal is to protect your experience and make sure that the outcome, no matter the circumstances, is one that you reflect on positively. I do not promise a textbook, natural childbirth. I believe that labor is nature's way of preparing us for motherhood, especially in its unpredictability.
Imagine that the unpredictability of labor and motherhood no longer caused you anxiety because you had a tool that prepared you to meet the unexpected with confidence and courage. What is that tool? Me!
A glimpse of what I do:
Provide information on
Signs of early labor
Referrals for local resources
And so much more!
Provide Physical Support such as
- Touch and massage
- Environmental adjustments
- Guided relaxation
- A positive example for the other birth team members
- Relief for your partner
- Support in specific positions
- Fulfillment of needs like thirst, a cool cloth, or Chapstick.
Provide emotional stability by
- Facilitating privacy, calm, and assurance
I feel that my biggest contribution is that I provide continuity of care. I am the only professional who will see you through from the time of hire well into motherhood. I see your journey as a whole and appreciate the events that don't just start with that first labor contraction. In a postpartum visit, I once had a new father repeat over and over how he couldn't get past the fact I was "still there" and how much comfort I brought him knowing he wasn't alone, much less his wife. That's it in a nutshell: I'm "there", present, providing 100% attention that flexibly fits whatever your needs are at the time. It's difficult to say exactly what a doula does because no birth, no mother, no father, no baby is exactly the same as another. We all have different needs. A doula understands that completely, and a good doula, anticipates needs before they ever have to be voiced.
There are still some that need factual evidence for the necessity of a doula. Here are some statistics that demonstrate the benefits of having a doula.
31% decrease in the use of Pitocin
28% decrease in the risk of C-section
12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience
Dekker, Rebecca L. "The Evidence for Doulas." evidencebasedbirth.org. 2013