WHY HIRE A DOULA?
A quick google search will take you to lists upon lists of the ways a doula can benefit you. But I’d like to offer ten of the ways I hope to most benefit my clients. It’s easy to throw out words like, “empower” and “support” but what does that actually look like?
10. A DOULA OFFERS RESOURCES
As a former teacher I value education SO MUCH, and being informed and educated about pregnancy and birth is no exception. Part of what I discuss with clients during our consultation is what type of birth education they are getting, and what they hope to get out of it. In addition, I offer clients supplementary resources that directly address their personal needs or concerns. Examples may include books or videos about the fear/pain cycle, pregnancy health and fitness, mental prep for labor and delivery, early preparation for breastfeeding, or Spinning Babies techniques that help you prepare the baby for the optimal birthing position. I can also connect you to other professionals in the birth community here who can help ease some of the challenges of pregnancy.
9. A DOULA HELPS YOU DEVELOP A BIRTH PLAN
Some women don’t feel comfortable with the idea of making a birth plan because there’s no way to guarantee everything will go as planned!
While this is true, creating a birth plan helps me know how to best support you, even if part of the plan changes. Your plan can include anything from what kind of pain management or medication you hope to use or not use, to how you want the lights, or type of music playing in the room. For me to know what is most important to you in your birth experience will help me to advocate for you, or accommodate you in the midst of change.
Most importantly, creating a birth plan also helps you to be informed about all of the possible options or procedures that can take place once you are at the hospital or birthing center. I love using the birth plan template that @earthmamaorganics provides here It details options and procedures, from before labor begins all the way to immediate postpartum and baby care procedures. It also includes room for back up plans, and your preferences should a c-section become necessary. You can easily check off your options and save or print! This allows you to be familiar with common procedures so you aren’t alarmed (like this girl over here 🙋🏻♀️) if the doctor offers you oxygen or wants to hydrate you with fluid, or asks about a pitocin shot after delivery.
With that said, I encourage you to view your birth plan as an informative and educational tool for yourself, and a support plan for your birth team.
8. A DOULA OFFERS EMOTIONAL SUPPORT.
One of our basic needs as humans is emotional stability and support, especially in the face of challenges. We need to be seen and heard, we need to be validated, we need to have someone speak wisdom to us when we feel chaotic or afraid.
Throughout your pregnancy I’m available to listen and talk through concerns you may have, provide encouragement, and prepare you for a positive birth experience. It may not sound like much but THIS IS HUGE. Your mental and emotional preparation is huge. The effect your mind has on your body is huge. The physiological effect that fear can have on you during pregnancy and birth is huge! Having strong emotional support serves as a defense against fear before and during labor, and helps you to be at peace with the process of birth!
7. A DOULA PROVIDES PHYSICAL SUPPORT FOR COMFORT.
There are two big benefits to the physical support that a doula offers. The first benefit is to provide comfort. When I meet you in labor at your home or at the hospital, my priority is to keep you as comfortable and provide the environment that you need. This could go a hundred different ways depending some on what you’ve indicated on your birth plan, or what your preferences are at the time.
Some examples might include using massage, reflexology techniques, applying counter pressure to relieve back labor, or applying cold wet cloths or ice to your back, neck or forehead. Perhaps I’m keeping pillows between your knees, under your hands and knees, behind your back and/or giving you one to hug depending on positions you are in.
Perhaps I’m preparing your tub, having the water, hair ties, snacks or chap stick handy, all to keep you as comfortable and focused as you can be. It doesn’t matter if you are on an epidural, without meds, or prepping for a c-section, being relaxed and free of stress or distractions is important to have for a positive birth experience. It will also help your labor progress, which will take us right into the the next benefit of physical support.
6. A DOULA PROVIDES PHYSICAL SUPPORT FOR PROGRESS.
When mama moves, baby moves. Physical support and movement throughout labor has enormous benefits on the progression of labor. This doesn’t mean that mom has to be up and dancing, though that could be one way to move baby down! But it does mean that I will be there to assist you to get into different positions every so often to open your pelvis, let gravity do it’s work, and help that baby move. Some examples may include walking, doing assisted squats with a rebozo, leaning over a birth ball or into your partner, or on your hands and knees. Even getting into sitting posture on the toilet can help mom’s labor progress. Movement also can also help your baby move into your pelvis in the optimal position allowing for a smoother delivery. Even if you are on an epidural, I can help you benefit from physical support by adjusting the bed, helping you into a sidelying position, or using a peanut ball to get your pelvis open.
The labor and birth experience shouldn’t be confined to laying on your back on a bed, and isn’t even a very conducive position for birth. That’s why I’m there to offer physical support that will help your labor progress!
5. A DOULA EMPOWERS YOUR BIRTH PARTNER.
I met a couple recently with a new baby, and in our conversation it came up that I was working as a birth doula. The face of the dad LIT UP. He immediately went into how much they loved their doula and were so glad they had her. It was so heartwarming. 💕
As your doula, I’m there to support your partner also, and to empower them in their support to you. The emotional connection between you and your partner is one of the most powerful forces that we have to work with during labor. It’s what drew you together, and brought us to this birth! It’s what stimulates the flow of oxytocin and navigates your body through labor. I can’t replace that! But I can protect that by helping them feel calm and confident about the process, giving you more stable support in turn. I can help your partner provide you the physical assistance you need, so they feel confident about the support they are providing, while connecting with you because...oxytocin! When you open your eyes between contractions, your partner is who you should see. I’m there to nurture your connection, and not let anxiety or fear come between you. This is the birth of their child too, so helping your partner meaningfully engage gives both of you a better birth experience!
Additionally, having a team of support takes some pressure off of your partner. We are all there for one another! If one of us needs to step out for a moment to check in with family, or take a break after an hour of providing hip squeezes, go to the bathroom, or refill your water, you are not left for a moment without someone there to support you. I’m there to help your partner help you, and also can help take some of the pressure off of them to be on for every second, which allows you to have continuous, focused support.
I truly feel that I’m there to serve the entire family, and to help everyone involved to have an amazing birth experience!
4. A DOULA ENABLES YOU TO ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF.
It’s important to know and trust that as a doula, I’m not here to make choices for you or push for a certain type of birth experience. I am however, here to help you make informed decisions, knowing the risks and benefits of your options, and being confident in your decision. This includes helping you know what kinds of questions to ask your care provider, or considering your options if you should face something unexpected, like induction. I am far from knowing everything there is to know about birth and all of the possible procedures, but I will be eager to help you find the right information to help you make a decision.
In the delivery room I can help communicate or clarify questions and procedures taking place, and will be there to support the choices you make in the moment. Your entire birth team will likely be familiar with your birth plan and preferences, but in the event that your care provider isn’t on call after all, I will be there to help communicate your preferences.
It’s really difficult to make a choice that you know is right for yourself, when you may not feel fully informed, or don’t feel like those around you want something different for you. That is why I want to help you feel sure about your decisions, to help you communicate them confidently, and to give you my full support.
3. A DOULA CAN HELP DOCUMENT YOUR BIRTH EXPERIENCE.
There has been a surge of interest in birth photography over the last few years. I recognize this may not be a service everyone wants to have for valid reasons. But I love being able to offer birth photography as an option because I find it to be so powerful in how you remember or perceive your birth experience, even if things go way off your plan. Photos fill in the gaps for beautiful things going on you may not have been aware of, offer glimpses into the story surrounding your baby’s birth, and of course capture those first moments of your baby’s life. I also love allowing your birth partner to fully participate in the journey with you, without having to worry about taking pictures.
If you are interested in photography, I will enter your birth as doula first, and photographer second. This means that the number of photos I can provide depends on the type of physical support you need from me during labor. In any case, I want your photos to highlight the sweetest moments of your experience, to reveal to you the strong, resilient, warrior that you are, and to depict a story you are proud of.
2. A DOULA PROVIDES POSTPARTUM SUPPORT.
Finally, these are the moments we have been waiting for!! Your journey finally brings you to the arrival of your baby. 💕💕 After your baby is born, I provide immediate postpartum support for 1-2 hours to assist with breastfeeding, support you and your partner through all of the immediate post birth procedures and continue taking photos. I will continue checking in with you, and if you would like, am available to visit again for more photos or anything you need during your hospital stay. .
Postpartum recovery can be so bizarre, even when it’s a “smooth” recovery. It’s a complete jumbled mess of hormones and emotions and physical healing and visitors and family and breastfeeding challenges, and baby snuggles, and many hours spent in the bathroom trying
to figure out what happened to your body ... or do you even want to know? Recovering from birth is as miraculous as pregnancy and giving birth. It takes time to feel normal again, but having support through it definitely helps. We will get together at least once or twice during those first few weeks, but I will continue to be available for any questions you have, no matter how gross you may feel like they are. I will also continue to help you find the help and resources you need. There is no shame in all the stuff that comes with healing. .
Birth education shouldn’t end with birth. Preparing and educating yourself on recovery is so important, but too easily forgotten in the midst of birth and baby prep. This observation is what led me to create #theperiparcel, with hopes to help women feel more prepared and less alone through their recovery.
1. A DOULA PROVIDES BETTER OVERALL BIRTH SATISFACTION.
All nine of the previous posts ultimately bring us to what I feel is the ultimate benefit of having a doula. Research continues to prove that continuous doula support during birth provides very real benefits. Doula support can decrease the likelihood of cesarean sections, the use of interventions, the use of pain medications, the amount of time spent in labor, and the likelihood that your baby will receive below a five on the Apgar scale after birth. All of these benefits of course can lead to greater birth satisfaction! As your doula, clearly I want to help you benefit in these ways, achieve the birth you want, and to have beautiful memories of the experience.
However, in the event that labor or birth doesn’t go as you hoped it would, doula support still increases the likelihood that a woman will feel satisfied with her birth experience, even if these other benefits are not achieved. I truly believe that regardless of how smooth or challenging your birth is, your mental and emotional well-being afterward is impacted by how much you felt you were heard, validated, supported and respected through the birth process. Birth satisfaction matters! It affects the bonding experience between you and your baby, which can affect your breastfeeding experience should you choose to breastfeed. It affects your self esteem and could impact your postpartum mental health. Ultimately, I am there to help you feel satisfied and proud of your birth experience.
I hope these ten posts have clarified how I want to benefit your birth experience. It’s amazing how birth is so common; we have all of humanity as evidence of this! Yet every birth experience matters, every birth is sacred, unique and life changing. And I believe every mom deserves to be proud of the story that brings her baby into the world.