What does support from a doula look like?
Birth doulas understand the physiological side of birth and recognize that birth is a natural process for a woman’s body. I also recognize that birth is a monumental life experience that the family will remember all their life. I provide insight and continuous, non-judgmental support to the birthing person and the partner/support person no matter what type of turn your birth takes – I create a calm and a relaxed environment, and encourage and guide the family throughout labor. Whether you are hoping for a natural birth (unmedicated/low intervention), waterbirth, vaginal birth after cesarean, or want support through interventions, an induction or a cesarean, I’m here for you.
- Emotional support is given by recognizing the emotional needs of the birthing person from pregnancy through birth – I provide an objective viewpoint and listen to the birthing person/partner so they feel heard, valued and can make informed decisions.
- Physical support is given by practicing coping measures and helping you and your partner during labor. I can make suggestions for labor progress with position changes/activities, practicing relaxation techniques (breathing and visualization techniques), light touch massage, and other techniques for comfort.
- Informational support is given through evidence-based information. This support includes providing assistance in creating birth preferences and advocating to help carry out these wishes during their birth. I help educate my clients on current options/resources for childbirth education, birthing locations, prenatal and newborn care, and postpartum care such as resources on lactation/bottle-feeding, nutrition, sleep and mental health, etc. based on the client’s birth preferences and needs.
- Support for the birth partner/support person is provided in all types of births. Many families have told me they want to hire a doula to make sure their partner is supported and knows what to do. I work with the partner to improve the birth experience and provide reassurances, guidance and encouragement during the labor process (likely “normalizing” what is happening during labor and birth). I also remind the birth partner/support person of self-care for themselves and help them be involved in the labor as much as desired both physically and with decision making.
Here are a couple of common Q&A’s to help you in your doula search…
- Do I need a doula if I have a midwife? – Yes, doulas do not provide medical care or “deliver” your baby, however, we are there for you to provide continuous support before, during and immediately after childbirth.
- Should I have a doula even if I want to get an epidural? – Yes, doulas are beneficial in all types of birthing scenarios, whether having medication or not. A common misconception is that doulas are only for people who want a natural (unmedicated) birth. Doulas are non-judgemental and help you advocate for your birth preferences, learn about all of your options and support you no matter what throughout the process.
Why is doula support valuable?
Continuous support by a doula helps ease/lighten any anxiety, fear or worry from the birthing person and/or partner/support person, and allows them to feel more empowered, confident, never alone, relaxed and in control of their own birth experience, which overall allows them to feel a more satisfying, positive birth experience. Studies show that, “people who receive continuous support are more likely to have a normal vaginal birth and less likely to have pain medication, negative feelings about childbirth, and cesareans. In addition, their labors are shorter and their babies are less likely to have complications at birth or be admitted to a NICU. In the studies, the best results occurred when the continuous support was provided by a trained doula – someone who was not a staff member at the hospital and not part of the birthing person’s social network.” – Evidence Based Birth®.
In addition, the notes, photos or videos that a doula often takes during the birth (with permission of the client) and then shares with the family during postpartum visits provide value and result in a more satisfying birth experience, as many moments may have been a blur to the family in the midst of labor.
The value of a doula is limitless and everyone on the birth team benefits with a doula on their team!