What Will Hiring a Doula Do for My Birth Experience?
What a Doula Does and Doesn't Do
The role of a doula is to provide emotional and physical support during the labor, birth and immediate post-partum experience. Through physical touch, massage and help with positioning during labor they can provide pain relief and relaxation. Through encouraging words and affirmations they can impart strength and faith that you can achieve the birth of your dreams.
Doulas also provide great support to your partner. They are not there to take your partners place, but rather to allow them to be fully present for you and engaged in the birth. Your partner will be able to take care of their own needs for rest, food and breaks without feeling that you are being neglected. Your partner will need emotional support too, this is a huge life-changing event!
A doula's role is very unique in that they are not there to provide any medical assistance, nor are they part of the decision making process and do not advocate on your behalf. However, by providing the very important need for emotional support your medical team will be able to focus solely on what they do best. As well, you and your partner will be able to advocate more effectively for your best birth possible.
What Services Do Doula's Provide?
- Most doulas offer continuous on-call support as needed during the last weeks of pregnancy. They will be ready to come and support you throughout labor and birth with little notice. Whether your birth lasts 3 hours or 33 hours they will be there for the long-haul.
- Doulas attend births in many different settings. Whether you are birthing in a hospital, birthing center or at home, they are there to help you achieve the goals you have for your birth.
- Doulas receive training in how to provide physical support to aid in natural forms of pain relief. Massage, counter-pressure and knowledge of positioning in labor and birth all provide great physical support. Doulas often have a "bag of tricks" that they bring with them to each birth, if one thing isn't working they are ready to employ the next tactic.
- If you become emotional weary, scared or feel like you won't be able to make it a doula will come to your rescue with words of affirmation. Sometimes you just need someone else to see what you cannot. You are strong, you are capable and every baby does eventually come out! In the moment it can be hard to remember this, but your doula will be there to remind you.
- Experienced doulas bring so much knowledge and expertise into a situation that may be so foreign and new to the birthing mother. The confidence they bring helps to maintain a peaceful birth environment. They can draw on past experience to help you even if things take a different course than you planned.
Things to Consider When Hiring a Doula
- You want to make sure that you feel a connection and have good communication with the doula you will be hiring. In order to be supported well, you will need to feel safe and able to trust them. Do you feel that you are being respected and listened to during the interview process? Does your doula understand the goals and desires you have for this birth? Have they clearly explained the services they provide and their fees?
- Make sure you know how you will be able to get in touch with them when the big moment arrives. How far away do they live from your birth location and how long do they anticipate it will take for them to be with you when you need them? If they are unable to come to your birth due to an emergency do they have another doula they work closely with that can substitute?
My Doula Experience
My first three births were very challenging and very long. For my third birth I was in labor for 33 hours! While I did have lots of support from my husband and other members of my birth team, I did not hire a doula for any of them.
I knew that I wanted to have more support in place with my fourth birth. Given that I tend to labor long and hard, it is very taxing on my medical providers and the others in attendance at my births. My husband gave everything he could towards helping me, but I knew how much of a toll it all took on him. I wanted us both to be supported well this fourth time around.
Having a doula for my birth was the best decision I could have made. She injected so much joy, peace and calm into my birth experience. She knew just how to best help me, whether I needed just a light reassuring touch or relaxing massage to ease away the tension. I'll never forget how she looked deep in my eyes and told me how amazing I was, that I was doing everything just right. I was able to laugh, to really enjoy the experience because of her infectious joy. She made me feel strong and helped me to believe in myself, cheering me on through the difficult parts. The joy of that experience spilled over into the postpartum period as well, and I had a great recovery and bonded really well. I definitely perceived less pain and felt less fear and stress than I had at my other births. I know having my doula there with me made all the difference.
For More Information
To receive more information contact DONA International (DONA)