When I tell people that I am a birth doula, their first response is normally “You’re a what?”
“A doula–I support women and their families during birth,” I say.
“That is really cool,” is normally their response.
They are correct: Being a birth doula is one of the coolest, most rewarding jobs out there.
So, what exactly IS a BIRTH doula?
Labor and birth doulas specialize in pregnancy and birth. They are trained professionals who provide informational, emotional, and physical support for mothers before, during, and after birth.
What does this mean?
In many way, doulas provide birth concierge services.
We provide support and education throughout pregnancy to answer your questions, both big and small.
We provide continuous support throughout labor and birth, and assist the family during their postpartum time.
Isn’t the Midwife or OB there to support the family? What about the nurses?
This is a common question. Surprisingly, a birth doula is likely the only person, aside from the mother’s partner, who remains present continuously throughout labor.
Every other birth team member will intermittently check in, but a doula does not leave the family’s side.
The birth doula will provide comfort measures, such as suggesting labor positions, performing massage or acupressure, ensuring mom and partner are well hydrated, and “holding space” in the birth room (which means ensuring the environment is conducive to labor.)
What is the evidence? Is doula care just “woo?”
Currently, 6% of births in the US are attended by doulas, with a growing interest in and recognition of the positive impact of doula care.
Extensive research has shown the many positive benefits of having a birth doula as part of your birth team. Women with doula support are less likely to have pain relief medications administered, less likely to have a cesarean birth, and reported to have a more positive childbirth experience.
Research also consistently finds that partners feel positively about the choice to hire a birth doula. In a 2008 study, all of nearly 200 partners rated having a doula as “very positive” (93%) or positive (7%). Those are some pretty good ratings!
Are Birth Doulas just for “Crunchy Moms” or Moms wanting a Natural Birth?
Birth Doulas are not just for families desiring an unmedicated birth. Doula support can be helpful in any type of birth. In fact, almost every birth I have attended has had some type of intervention, from induction to planned and unplanned Cesarean section.
The testimony below from a birthing mom truly encompasses the non-judgmental support that doulas provide:
Mandy was the first person I called when I went into labor at 36.5 weeks.
She was there the entire time throughout our short and sweet natural birth (3.5 hours!), suggesting labor positions, helping my husband use massage and counterpressure during my contractions, bringing me washcloths with lavender and clary sage oil to calm me as I labored in the shower, feeding me snacks and keeping me hydrated, encouraging me as I pushed, and taking photos as my husband and I bonded with our daughter and I nursed her for the first time.
Our daughter had to be monitored briefly due to low temperature and low blood sugar, and Mandy attended to me and my postpartum needs while my husband stayed with our baby.
Finally, she checked in with us regularly throughout our hospital stay and over the next few weeks as we got settled at home.”
You may now be thinking: “Wow! This is pretty cool. I want a birth doula!”
There some great sites to check out as well so you can find the doula that is right for you.
Doula Match– A one-stop shop of doulas in your area who are available on you due date.
DONA – A certifying organization for doulas with a directory.
I would be honored if you filled out my contact form to schedule a meeting and discuss your desires!