Doula comes from the greek word for 'servant'. We're not midwives, we're not witches. We really identify more as coaches. A Birth Sherpa to lead you up the Everest of Birth.
We do not deliver babies
We do not officially give medical advice, however we do share information.
What do you actually do then?
We have run into this question a lot, not just because we are doulas, but because we spend a lot of time with people in the health care field, and also with women around childbearing age in our other lines of work.
A doula is a person who is trained to emotionally and physically support the mother and partner through the pregnancy, labour, and post partum stages of bringing a baby into the world.
A doula is available to you through text, email, or phone in the months leading up to your birth. You have meetings before baby to discuss birth goals, plans, interventions, give advice, ect. On call 24 hours a day for the 3 weeks before and 2 weeks after your due date.
Willing to come to your house, and help you decide when its appropriate to head to the hospital when you are in labour, or do whatever you need done to help you with labouring at home if you are having a home birth.
Make tea, coach through contractions, squeeze your hips, hang out and watch movies and keep you feeling calm and normal.
A doula is not medically trained to deliver a baby, or even do anything 'medical' such as cervix checks, check blood pressure, or administer any sort of medication. Many people get midwives and doulas confused and they are quite different. Midwives are university educated and trained to deal with normal pregnancies and births, including the delivery of a baby at home or in the hospital. OBs are great for high risk pregnancies, or if you are just more comfortable in a hospital, OB environment. If you are confused about choosing between an OB or a midwife make sure to do your research. Ask your friends, colleagues, and see what their experiences are, or you can sign up for our 'Preconception Workshop'.
A doula is a paid addition to your prenatal health care team. She will work with your midwife, naturopath, acupuncturist, OB, or whoever else may be a part of your support circle. She will learn your goals for your birth and help you achieve those in the safest, healthiest way possible. She may be able to provide Prenatal Education, or direct you to a place where she feels they do quality birth education. She will provide evidence based research and scientific information to help you make decisions, but should not push her beliefs on you.
A doula is not there to replace your partner. A doula is there to encourage, empower, and educate your partner, to help them help you better. To relieve your support when they need to go to the bathroom, or to take a nap, or to go get food. A doula not only builds a trusting relationship with you, but with your partner as well. If things get stressful during the birth and medical jargon is getting confusing, a doula can help you work through the information you learned prior to the birth and make informed decisions. Birth can sometimes be very stressful. It's hard for a partner to stay calm in the heated moments when they are just as scared for mom and baby. A doula can help ease these situations as a comforting, trusted person to remind you of the education you already have. A basis for this learned in Prenatal Education classes is ESSENTIAL.
A doula is trained in breastfeeding support. She will help you to get baby latched ASAP after birth, and answer any questions you may have at any time. She will come for 2-3 visits post baby to help with anything you need, and check up on breastfeeding, and just to hang out because you will be great friends by this point! She knows to refer out if anything with breastfeeding isn't going well, and can direct you to the right place for help. She also can help with bottle feeding, pumping, and supplementation help needed, and just listening to you speak about your experience.
A doula is not a crazy granola hippie, probably *though we do have some 'hippie-isa personal habits sometimes*. It is definitely a stereotype that doulas are 'anti-hospital', 'anti-pain med', or 'anti-vaccination'. Some may be these things, but many are not.
A doula is there to help you weigh your options with evidence based information. If any qualities are important to you, it makes it that much more important to find the right fit as a doula. Anything that is of high value to you, will make the relationship with a doula that much more seamless.
We highly recommend interviewing 2-3 candidates to find the right fit. Maybe you just need post partum support with feeding, and emotional issues, or letting you get some sleep. It depends on what exactly you picture your doula doing for you. Do the work. It will be worth it.
A doula does not speak for you. She encourages you to find your own voice. She does not speak to medical staff on your behalf. It is not a doulas job to save you from interventions. If you are untrusting of your birth environment or provider, you need to change that. Comfort, trust, and the ability to relax are imperative to a birth.
If you're curious about what we do, how we help you, or just want to dive into this birth junkie world, get on our email list here, and get our freebie packing list!