What is a doula, anyway?
A doula is a support provider who offers guidance, information and education, along with physical and emotional support to a laboring individual and their partner(s) before, during, and after the birth of their baby. Think of your doula as your personal cheerleader during your pregnancy and birth journey!
How can a doula improve my birth experience?
Families who seek the compassionate and skilled care of a doula are more likely to experience the following benefits (and so much more!):
- 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with their birth experience
- 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin (a synthetic form of Oxytocin used to induce labor)
- 28% decrease in the risk of C-section
- 14% decrease in the risk of their newborn being admitted to a special care nursery
*As reported in The Evidence for Doulas by Rebecca Dekker
Is a doula like a midwife?
Doulas are unlike midwives and obstetricians in that they do not perform any medical procedures or provide medical care such as vaginal exams, administration of medication, blood pressure checks, catching your baby, etc.
Will my doula be my advocate during my birth?
While a doula can provide you with support and information, a doula’s role is not to advocate for you in the birthing room. We are not permitted to speak for you, make decisions for you, or advise you to make a certain decision. Doulas work diligently with you during prenatal visits to help you feel your power as medical consumers so that you and your partner(s) know how to advocate for yourselves when decisions need to made about your care.
How do I know if I have found the right doula for me?
Finding a the right doula is a lot like dating! You and your partner(s) will be sharing very intimate moments with your doula. You want to be sure that you are 100% comfortable with each other. When the chemistry is right, you will trust your doula implicitly. That’s why it’s so important to bring your partner(s) to your consultations with potential doulas. You all need to vibe in order to have the most pleasurable birth experience.
Do doulas support medicated labors and births?
Most definitely! A doula’s role is to support YOUR decisions, not make recommendations based on what she has done or would do in your same situation. At the heart of your doula’s philosophy should be a strong desire for YOU to walk away from your birth feeling satisfied with your experience. A well-trained doula will help you understand the risks and benefits of all of the potential interventions and emergency situations that can arise during labor and birth so that YOU have the tools you need to make informed decisions for YOUR family. She has plenty of tricks up her sleeve to help support you during lots of different kinds of labors and births, whether they are natural or medicated.
Will my doula take the place of my spouse/partner?
Absolutely not! In fact, an experienced doula understands how to fade in and out of the background during your labor and birth to provide just what you need when you need it. Doulas support spouses and partners by ensuring that their needs are met so that they can be freed up to support the laboring person to the best of their ability and to the extent that they wish to be involved. Doulas can also make suggestions in terms of the kind of support your spouse/partner(s) can offer you throughout your journey to meeting your babe.
Do I really need to take a childbirth education class?
According to InJoy – Birth & Parenting Education, only 17-18% of expectant families in the Western United States take a childbirth education class today. There is a direct correlation between this figure and the rising cesarean, induction, and maternal and fetal mortality and morbidity rates in our country. As Penny Simkin states, “When parents have knowledge, they seek care that reflects their preferences for family-centered and flexible care.”
The fact of the matter is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Three of the main benefits of taking a quality childbirth education class are learning about all of your birth options, forming a good working knowledge of the birth process, and reducing fears of childbirth perpetuated by our society at large. It’s also a dedicated time for you and your partner (if you have one) to spend time together and set positive intentions for your baby’s birth. Practicing labor positions and various comfort measure options allows you to zero in on what feels right to you before the big day. Whether this is your first or your fifth child, you will feel more prepared for the rigor of childbirth by investing your time and resources in a quality childbirth preparation program.
Why should I take an 8-week childbirth class, when there are much shorter options out there?
An added bonus of setting aside some time in your busy schedule to take an 8-week class, as opposed to a shorter course, is that you give yourself the gift of creating your village, or tribe, of families whose babies will be born around the same time as yours. Just because you CAN raise your baby in a vacuum, doesn’t mean that you HAVE to (or even should!). Shorter classes, well-meaning as they are, often consist of watered-down material due to time constraints. There is often much less time devoted to the actual practice of the methods presented. It goes without saying that you get out of a childbirth education class what you put into it. So, take that step to enroll in a thorough childbirth class that will leave you feeling confident and prepared for your baby’s debut!