Many parents are now reaping the benefits of hiring a doula. However, someone new to the world of doulas may not fully understand how they may be able to help you throughout your pregnancy, labour, and after the baby arrives. In order to maximize your experience with a doula it is important to understand what exactly a doula is and ways they may be able to support you in the crazy journey of becoming a parent. So what is a doula?
A doula is a companion that is trained and experienced to provide physical, emotional and informational support to a mother and her family. However there are several different kinds of doulas can that can help mothers during pregnancy, birthing and postpartum.
Birth doulas are a valuable resource for moms-to-be that recognize that pregnancy and birthing are an exciting yet scary time for new moms. Seriously we have to pass test to learn to drive, go to school for years to learn how to read but you are able to walk into a labour room without a clue of what to expect or how to get through your delivery in the most positive way possible. And ladies please don’t rely strictly on your husbands/partners. They have never given birth either or likely even seen one, so you can’t blame them when they get the deer caught in headlights look when you are in pain and they have no idea how to help you with your contractions.
I like to think of a Doula as that really great friend who you can ask questions to and they always have an answer and know how to offer you advice and support.
- Provide helpful information – Doulas provide a safe place to discuss birthing wishes and hopes, as well as pain management techniques. Ask about past births they have attended at the location you are going to deliver, they will likely have some tips of what you should be bringing with you as well.
- Answer questions – Doulas are there to answer all your questions. During pregnancy lots of changes are happening to your bodies and you don’t always know what is “normal” or not. It is reassuring to give you doula a call or send an email with your questions to help put your mind at ease. Even with my second and third pregnancies I still had questions that I wasn’t sure of. It was awesome being able to text my doula and get an answer quickly rather then waiting until my next midwife appointment for non-urgent issues.
- Advocate – During labour as a mom-to-be you have other things to focus on rather the the execution of your birth plan. A doula also can be an advocate and voice for the birthing mother. The doula can have the very important role of communicating with a partner or healthcare team to remind them of the mothers wishes and offer support along the way.
- Help with pain management during labour – A doula also uses their knowledge and experience to provide comfort measures and physical support to a birthing mother. This can be anything from massage to counter back labour, and suggesting different positions to facilitate the progression of labour to walking the halls while the mom to be is doing “laps” to help labour along. I was so thankful to have our doula with us when I was in labour with Little Bear, at the start my labour was a bit slow to get going so the doula and I walked the hospital as Hubs was able to to a few minutes for himself and grab breakfast. With the doula there I was never alone and having the extra support was amazing.
- After baby is born – a birth doula can provide you and your family with valuable information, and support in the first hours following delivery to help establish breastfeeding. Depending on the type of services offered the doula may also come for a home visit in the first few days that you are home to answer any questions you may have about your newborn as well as offer breastfeeding support.
Just like no two children are alike, no two pregnancies and births are exactly the same. Having a doula at your delivery adds an experiences support person who is there “just for you”. It is important to find a doula that you connect with and feel comfortable with, afterall this is a person who is going to be with you at one of the most important events of your life.
After having a doula at my second birth (we planned to have one with my first as well, but you know Monkey had other plans) it was a no-brainer to hire her again for the birth of Baby Roo. If you are in the Toronto area my doula was Kristi from Helping Hand Doula, and I have recommended her to several friends who have used her as well.
If you are debating whether or not you feel as though a doula is right for you, you’re not alone. However, studies show that when a doula is present during labour and delivery there are less complications and labour is generally shorter (a huge plus in my books!). Questions about having a doulas or what it was like using a doula – ask away in the comments below!