What are doulas all about? Is it really for me?
A doula is for every type of birth - hospital birth or home birth, induced labor or spontaneous labor, epidural or no epidural, birth partner or no birth partner, midwife or obstetrician, cesarean or vaginal...the list goes on.
When I began my birth doula training and certification journey, and truly every day since, I've heard the misconceptions and stereotypes about doulas... the expectation that doulas must be women in flowing, flowery skirts, bandanas in their hair, smelling of essential oils, probably barefoot, and most importantly, absolutely against any kind of birth that involves modern medicine, doctors, or pain management techniques. Are there doulas who might match some of the descriptions above? Sure, there are some, but the goal of a doula who truly understands her purpose is to empower the birthing person with the confidence to have a birth that matches their dream, not someone else's notion of a "perfect birth." Whatever birth looks like, the result is the creation of new life and new relationships, with the potential to live on in the birthing person's memory as the single most powerful moment. Period.
And here's where it gets really exciting... it's not just a feel-good luxury to have a doula. The research is resoundingly clear that the emotional, physical, and informational support provided by a doula can decrease the length of labor, decrease the use of pain medications, decrease the likelihood of a cesarean section, increase baby's APGAR scores at birth, increase breastfeeding success, and increase mother's positive perceptions of her baby and herself. Read more
A doula comes alongside the birthing person during pregnancy to become familiar with plans, needs, worries, and wonderings, in order to provide resources, ideas, hands-on techniques, and encouragement through continuous labor support... supplying a wealth of tricks and tips for movement, comfort, strength, and labor progress throughout the stages of labor and childbirth. Sometimes that looks like a cheerleader, sometimes a coach, and sometimes it's just someone to sit quietly in the space with you. If a partner is present, the doula-partner team is key (read more). As a doula, I love when I can stand back and watch a loving partner use newly learned techniques and feel empowered as a part of the birthing process.
Still not sure if a doula is for you? It's understandable to take time with this decision, and it's all part of starting your journey to an informed, empowered birth. Meet with a few in your area (consultations should always be free) and follow your instincts. Reach out to me for information or, if you're not in my service area, find your nearest doulas with a quick Google or DoulaMatch search.