What is a doula?
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labours are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeeding more easily.
Why do I need a doula if my partner is with me during labour?
Having a doula will help your partner participate more actively in the birth. Partners may worry they are not doing enough or the right thing. A Doula can help him/her care for and support the mom by giving suggestions, providing encouragement or giving needed breaks during a long labor. It is easy for the inexperienced partner to become overwhelmed and easily frustrated when the simple comfort techniques taught to them don’t work – or are forgotten! A doula can help offer the right suggestion at the appropriate time, helping the partner use hisher support skills better. As well, having a doula in attendance ensures the mom will never be left alone if either the partner or the doula needs a short break.
This is our first baby and I really want this to be a special/intimate time just between my husband and I. We really don’t want a stranger there so why would I use a doula?
Your doula won’t be a stranger to you once you’ve hired her! You will have become acquainted with each other during your prenatal visits and it is unlikely you would hire someone you didn’t feel comfortable with. If you are giving birth in a hospital, you will meet many strangers depending on how long you are there. Nurses, doctors, anesthesiologist to mention a few. Your own doctor may not even be there to deliver your baby!
When things get tough or things occur that feel beyond your control and different people are scurrying in and out of your room, it will be extremely comforting to have a doula there – someone you know and trust who will be able to inform you of what is going on! She won’t be a stranger, but a caring friend.
What if I am Having a C-Section?
If you are having a scheduled C-Section, I can still assist in developing a birth plan that recognizes your desires for postpartum care and recovery. In the event of an emergency C-Section I can help to ensure you have the information you need to give informed consent, and help you process the emotional impact of a change in your birth plan.
Most hospitals only allow one support person during the surgery itself, but once baby is born, I can support your initial breastfeeding. I can also remind you and your partner to advocate for immediate skin to skin and minimal separation of mother and baby wherever possible. In the event that you and your baby are separated, your partner can stay with your baby, while I continue to support you in recovery or postpartum. Together we can problem solve the additional challenges of recovery and caring for a newborn after surgery.
Do I have to have a Home Birth (or hospital birth) to have a doula?
You choose where you give birth, and you choose your care provider. I will support your birth wherever you choose. I will support your choices. If you have a midwife, a doula is still a valuable support. A midwife takes the place of the doctor and your physical well-being and the well-being of your baby is her primary concern. The doula offers emotional support throughout your labour and delivery along side the midwife.
Do I need to take a pre-natal class if I have a doula?
It is your choice whether or not you take a prenatal class. More information is always better, as it will help you prepare for labour, birth, postpartum and baby care. I can provide you with resources and references for information covered in most prenatal classes. I can offer suggestions of reading material and can even loan some excellent reading material from our lending library. Our prenatal meetings are spent discussing labour progression, birth preferences/ options, comfort measures, pain management, newborn care, and informed decision-making among other topics.
Are Doulas only for Natural (unmedicated) births?
My goal is to support your birth preferences, whatever they may be. If you want to have a medicated or unmedicated birth, I will use whatever tools at my disposal to support you through your labor to achieve your goal. My job is to ensure you have access to necessary information to make informed decisions.
You chose what you want your birth to look like, and I will support you to try and make it happen. With or without pain medications or with an epidural, I will encourage you to use a variety of positions to help baby descend to an optimal position for birth (hopefully minimizing further medical interventions). Doulas are for any woman who wants to feel confident and supported through her birth experience.