You may have an understanding of what a doula is. Someone who provides physical and emotional support during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Ok. Cool. But, you still may be asking yourself, what does that mean? How do doulas accomplish their job?
The answer is ALL THE THINGS! Each doula is unique in their style of care, but at the end of the day, the scope of a doula is to meet your needs in any way she is qualified to do so. To give you more insight, we have broken down parts of the doula's work into more detail.
Whether you are a first time mom, or an experienced mom, pregnancy can be full of questions. Is it normal to feel this way? What is placenta previa? When will the nausea stop?
While a doula is not a medical professional, and we do not pretend to be, we are unique in our experience with a wide variety of women and their pregnancy ups and downs. Doulas are equipped with training and knowledge of how pregnancy progresses and can help you to understand the medical terminology your doctor or midwife may use. We also are a resource for how to cope with the highs and lows of pregnancy and to give you ideas on managing your emotions and the physical toll pregnancy can take.
Doulas use prenatal meetings to discuss how your pregnancy is going and to help you plan your birth. Many women do not have a clue as to what their options are in the birthing room and doulas can help give you things to think about, or questions to ask so you can better prepare yourself. Prenatal meetings are a great time to get all your thoughts, desires, and feelings on paper in a birth plan that can be shared with your care provider. This can help your entire birth team to be on the same page as you. Did you know, the position you are pushing in, options for pain management, fetal monitoring, immediate postpartum baby care, even the lighting in the room, are all topics that have many options for you to consider? There is no one size fits all way to do things when it comes to birth.
Prenatal meetings are also a great time to talk about the best way to help relieve pain and discomfort during labor. Maybe visualizing waves and water will keep you calm, or maybe you need constant verbal encouragement. The way each woman copes with labor is going to vary, but a doula is there to support you in whatever your individual needs may be. Massage, movement, positioning, visualization, verbal encouragement, music, and more can be part of how a doula helps to provide you with support and keep you in the right place of mind.
Another great topic for prenatal meetings is how a doula can support your husband or partner. Doulas do NOT replace your husband. Our goal is to support you both, and to help your partner understand how to support you. Does your husband know how to provide counter-pressure during a contraction? Probably not. Does your partner pass out easily or you think he just may need some direction? These are all basic concerns that a doula helps with all the time and by discussing your options, can help you to feel empowered and prepared for your birth.
Doulas are a great resource during pregnancy for all your needs. By getting to know you, and your desires for your birth through prenatal meetings, you are at increased odds to achieve the birth you want.
Be on the lookout for the next editions of this 3 part series "What Does a Doula Do?" over the next couple weeks on the blog and on our Facebook page. In the next segment, we are going to walk you through labor and share the many ways doulas are a great addition to your birth team.