Many times as I begin sharing any of my own birth stories, I see confusion on the persons face staring back at me.
"What is that? A Doula?" they ask.
I'll go on to say something quick and brief like, "Oh, a doula is someone you bring in to your birthing space who helps you tremendously during labor and delivery".
Sometimes the conversation advances into something more and other times they are satisfied enough with that simple answer.
But the truth is, Doulas are way more than that.
dou·la: a woman who assists women during labor and after childbirth
is passionate about the birthing process and is completely comfortable, calm, and relaxed when being in a birthing space.
is a non-medical support person but who has been specially trained and educated in doula study and courses by a regional or national organization and may have earned further certification and/or credentials
cares very deeply about assisting you develop a birth plan you believe in and then helping you implement it when in labor
advocates for your rights as a patient as well as the rights of your newborn baby
is educated in how to best prepare a woman's body for labor and can provide you helpful tools and tips to get your body ready and baby in an optimal position for childbirth
also assists fathers/husbands/partners by allowing them to be more focused on you as well as taking care of themselves. It's so important that Dad's also get the sleep they need and food in their belly's so they, too, can be energized and ready when baby arrives.
is said to reduce your risk of cesarean section by 25%
increases your chance of spontaneous vaginal birth by 8%
shortens labor on average by 41 minutes
decreases your baby's risk of a low Apgar score by 38%
lowers the risk of being dissatisfied by your overall birth experience by 31%
*percentages shown are from the Evidence Based Birth website*
So when you give yourself a Doula, she will probably:
squeeze your hips during contractions
brush your hair to help you relax and feel amazing
put chapstick on your lips
make you laugh
give you a boost in confidence
massage your back with special rollers or tennis balls
rub your legs and feet
make sure you are well hydrated and nourished (she will literally help feed you and drink water)
look at you in your eyes when you've declared you can't do it and very softly and calmly reply, "you ARE doing it."
make sure you are able to sleep and get your rest
assist your baby in latching on for his/her first nursing session after birth
fill up your labor and/or birth tub and make sure it stays at a comfortable and constant temperature
make you feel the most beautiful you've ever been in a time you might feel oppositely
tell you birth affirmations and/or read scripture
setup your birth play list if you have one
fan you when you are hot
cover you in blankets when you are cold
help move you in different and optimal positions throughout your labor
support the choices or changes you make along the way
make sure your husband/birth partner is also well cared for and taken care of
take a nap when you are napping- she needs her energy and strength, too.
stay by your side no matter how long it takes for 18+ hours
hold your hand and allow you to almost crush hers as you squeeze tightly. She won't complain.
clean up any messes you may accidentally make (like me, when I spilled my ice water all over myself and the floor)
talk to any nurses and/or providers on your behalf if that is your desire