How Doulas Nurture The Family
Historically, people were able to lean on the experience of their family to navigate pregnancy and childbirth, but in our modern society, many find that relying on or receiving support from family is not always an option and hiring a doula becomes a critical support for people transitioning to parenthood. Maybe you live far away from supportive relatives, have estranged relationships or you simply (and in some cases, quite complicatedly) have no one you trust when it comes to your pregnancy and childbirth.
Enter the birth doula, hired to provide you with the wisdom and information you need, without having any judgment about the choices you make. Doulas nurture the family by helping you make informed decisions, as well as providing physical support during and after the birth of your little one. It’s invaluable to have this kind of support during such a tender and raw time.
While you are still pregnant, your doula will guide you with information to help you prepare for labor. You will ideally meet a few times before your due date to go over your questions, write a birth plan or birth preferences sheet, practice labor positions, and more. After meeting with your doula, you should feel held and supported with the decisions you’ve made for yourself, your baby, and your family.
During Labor and Birth
While you are still pregnant, you and your birth doula will come up with a plan of when and where they will join you once your labor has begun. This may mean that your doula will meet you at home and will help you through labor there or it may mean that they will meet you at the hospital or birth center. Your doula will keep you focused on the task at hand by taking care of other things, such as keeping you hydrated, moving positions, paying attention to the timing of your contractions, and advising you on when the best time may be to transfer to your birth location if you are not already there.
If you have a partner who will be present as you labor, your birth doula will support them, by assisting them with all of the above-mentioned tasks, if they would like that level of involvement or by allowing them a moment to step away to eat, take a breather or reach out to family and friends who may be looking for updates.
The evidence is clear, hiring the support of a birth doula has been shown to reduce cesareans by anywhere from 28 percent to 56 percent for full-term births and is shown to reduce inductions and epidural rates. Having a doula also increases the likelihood of successful lactation and decreases the likelihood of postpartum depression. Doulas provide an invaluable translation of the medical jargon, helping you make sense of what is happening around you.
Birth doulas are trained to be able to support you in any number of birth types including home, hospital, birthing center, medicated, unmedicated, planned, and unplanned cesareans.
The evidence doesn’t stop after you’ve birthed your baby. Doulas, when hired for postpartum support, are also shown to decrease the likelihood of postpartum depression and increase breastfeeding/bodyfeeding success. Postpartum doulas also ease the mental load of taking care of your baby, yourself, and your home by continuing to offer physical assistance such as helping with basic babycare like diapering and newborn bathing, overnight care, help with baby-related chores like baby laundry, meal prepping and making sure you are eating, and offering an ear to hear about your birth or any challenges you are facing as you navigate your new life and role as a new parent.
A Doula Is For Everyone
No matter your family composition, cultural background, religious or spiritual ideals, financial status, location, size of your home, a doula can be for you. It doesn’t matter if you are birthing in a hospital or at home, plan on chestfeeding or prefer to use formula. Co-sleep, or sleep train. The beauty of working with a birth or postpartum doula is that they are hired to support YOU, just as you are, with no judgment and only information and dedication to your prenatal and parenting choices. Hire a doula today and get the care you deserve.
Laura is a doula, a writer, a wife, and the mother of two. When Laura is not supporting new families or her own, you can find her trying out fun new recipes in the kitchen. Laura is available on the boober platform for matches.