How a Doula Can Transform The Birthing Experience
Doulas are an invaluable resource for new and expecting parents. They provide a wonderful array of support that begins during pregnancy and lasts through the postpartum period. Walking through this time of your life with the guidance of a trusted birth or postpartum doula will transform your birthing experience through continuous and deeply personalized attention and care, in ways that are meaningful to you.
There is so much to learn and do as you prepare for the birth of your baby and no one should have to do it unsupported. Let’s look closely at the benefits of having a doula by your side.
So what exactly do doulas do?
Doulas provide support while you are pregnant
Doulas not only attend your birth, they educate and support families before labor begins. They help you write or develop a birth plan or birth preferences sheet, they educate you about childbirth, they thoughtfully answer whatever questions pop into your head about pregnancy, birth and postpartum, they provide reassurance that what you are experiencing is normal, help identify when things are not normal, help practice labor positions at home with you, help prepare your home for baby, and so much more. A doula will also help you know when it is time to leave your home in labor and go to your birthing location. Signs of labor are often hard to read and doulas can help you navigate this more easily.The support a doula can offer to you while you are still pregnant varies depending on your needs and interests, but you know if you’ve got a doula on your team, you have someone who is invested in helping you figure it all out and leaving youfeeling prepared for the arrival of your baby.
Doulas provide support throughout labor,immediately after birth, and improve outcomes!
If you hire a birth doula, you will have their support during labor and also in the few hours after your baby has been born. Your doula can help keep you hydrated, moving and changing positions, and as comfortable as possible. Your doula will help you get to your place of birth, keep you focused, provide affirmations to keep you going, offer non-pharmacological pain-management techniques, keep you in the moment and provide all the physical, emotional and informational support you may need to get through your labor and birth. Your doula will advocate for you and help you understand challenging situations during labor, helping you to make the best decision for yourself at the moment. Depending on the study or review, doulas have been shown to reduce cesareans by anywhere from 28 percent to 56 percent for full-term births and are shown to reduce inductions and epidural rates. Doulas are also shown to decrease the likelihood of postpartum depression and increase breastfeeding/bodyfeeding success. Doulas provide invaluable translation of the medical jargon, helping you make sense of what is happening around you. Doulas support partners by offering them suggestions and ideas for supporting the laboring person, taking the pressure off of them to know every last thing about childbirth and providing the opportunity for them to step away for a moment to get air or to get something to eat for themselves or simply have an emotional moment for themselves as they process the birth. Ultimately the research says doulas help improve birth outcomes for families, and who would not want this?
Doulas support all kinds of births and families
Unmedicated, medicated, vaginal, planned or unplanned cesareans, home births, hospital births, birthing center births, VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), induced, or whatever your circumstance is. Support for queer parents, single parents, non-monogamous parents. There is no birth circumstance or family dynamic where you can’t find the right doula for you!
“Our doula was incredible. I had an elective induction that turned into an unplanned c-section (almost an emergency c-section). It was an extremely frightening experience and our doula really helped me pull through. She was completely supportive and non judgmental. She explained everything that was going on to me at a time when I had difficulty understanding anything. I’m so thankful I had her support”
A new mom who booked her doula with boober
Doulas support breastfeeding/bodyfeeding/chestfeeding
Although bodyfeeding is usually a naturally occurring biological process, it is far from easy for many new parents. Whether your doula is a lactation consultant or not they likely have some basic training or experience with lactation and infant feeding and can help you initiate a good first latch with your baby after birth. Additionally, in the first few days and weeks of nursing your baby, you will likely have questions about if what you’re doing and experiencing is normal. Your doula can offer youyou sound advice or refer you to a lactation consultant who can give you the assistance that you need.
Doulas provide post-birth decompression and understanding
Usually after labor and birth, new parents like to process their birth either with each other or with other people who were present during labor. It can feel especially supportive to have an opportunity to decompress with someone who is thoroughly familiar with the birthing process. You will also have an unbiased ear to listen to your postpartum experience.
Doulas may be familiar with your birthing location or medical team
You may end up hiring a doula who has worked with your doctor, midwife, hospital, or birthing center before. They will be familiar with the layout, policies, and procedures. They can offer insight into what their experience has been like working with these providers and in these locations, and sometimes it’s nice to know that someone on your team is familiar with where you are and with the other people offering you support, even if many of those people and places are strangers to you. Even if they have never worked with your provider or place of birth, doulas are trained to support people in all circumstances.
Doulas provide postpartum day and overnight support
One of the most transformative types of support that doulas provide are during the postpartum period and especially with overnight care. Your doula can come to your home and help you with newborn care, meal prep for yourself, bodyfeeding support, assistance with baby-related household chores and you’ll have a trusted professional to hold your baby so that you can nap, shower, or have a much needed moment to yourself. While many people have heard of a baby nurse, fewer people realize that doulas not only provide overnight baby care, they provide you care too and are the best of both worlds!
Types of doulas you may not have heard of before
There are many different kinds of doulas who offer specific and niche care. You’ve likely heard of birth, labor, and postpartum doulas but here are some commonly unheard of doulas:
Abortion, miscarriage, antepartum, sibling, bereavement, adoption, surrogacy,foster, menopause, and end-of-life just to name a few. The doulas who offer support in these areas are specially trained in those processes and have different resources to support families who have different needs.
No matter what kind of birth you envision for yourself, the make-up of your family dynamic, or what your priorities are, having the personalized care of a professional doula will be hugely impactful for your experience. Being supported, empowered, and educated is what makes the transformative difference between having or not having a doula. Hire a doula today, and thank yourself later.
Laura is a doula, having served clients in both New York and in mid-Michigan. She is a wife and the mother of two, a toddler and a teen. When Laura is not supporting new families or her own, you can find her trying out fun new recipes. Laura is available on the boober platform for matches.