What is a Doula?
If you’ve been hovering over our services wondering “What is a doula?” or “What exactly does a doula do?” then we would like to invite you to keep reading to discover what doula care is, and the value of working with a doula.
Supporting pregnant people has been a high priority for several cultures throughout history. Whether it was another mother, an aunt, a sister or a close friend it was important for people pregnant to be surrounded with caring helpers as they navigated the birth journey.
The unfortunate reality today is that a lot of people don’t have the extra support they need as they progress in their pregnancy. This is where a doula can step in.
The following article will answer the questions:
What is a Doula?
A doula’s scope of practice is entirely non-medical - while your dedicated healthcare providers are concerned with you and your baby's medical wellbeing a doula is concerned with your comfort and emotional, spiritual, and mental wellbeing.
Consider your doula as a reliable friend who can provide you with accurate information and is prepared to answer your questions before, during, and after pregnancy. While we’re aware that there’s an abundance of information available on Google, a doula is someone who takes time to get to know you personally and can help you find accurate information that is relevant to you and what you’re experiencing. Doulas also guide you to trusted services and resources as needs arise.
How do Doulas support their clients?
Doulas support their clients in different ways depending on when they are stepping into the birth team. During pregnancy, doulas take time to get to know you and the people supporting you, (spouse, friend or parent) which helps build relationships as everyone prepares for the baby’s arrival. They’ll offer both emotional and informational support for mamas-to-be, who often have lots of questions such as the baby's wellbeing and ways to make their pregnancy more comfortable.
During labour a doula is present and ready to provide physical support that will encourage a calmer birth experience. Doulas are trained in breathing exercises, providing a comforting touch, and calming guidance.
In the fourth trimester, which is the tender three month period after giving birth, doulas provide practical support, like coming over to take care of your baby so you can rest and recharge. Your doula is also a listening ear who you can trust and express yourself to. A shoulder to cry on, or a person to share a laugh with can create powerful moments that help you find normalcy in a new reality, and make you feel like yourself again.
Doulas specialize in different areas to help meet the diverse needs of mothers. Some focus on holistic nutrition, while others focus on emotional support and are trained in coping mechanisms to help avert mental health concerns. Some doulas are also trained in massage and can relieve tension and pain in your changing body and during labour.
But more importantly than what doulas do, research data shows that hiring a doula to be a part of the birth team:
Becoming a mother is life-changing, but it’s not something you have to do alone. When you choose to hire a doula you’re investing in protecting your mental health, and in a powerful support to the people who are helping you, and your baby!
Do doulas support mothers who are planning to give birth in a hospital?
A doula supports all birth types, whether you choose to have your baby at home, in the hospital or at a birth centre. As an objective support person, their role is not to impose on your birth plan. Doulas are committed to standing by mothers in all their decisions.
How do doulas support mothers in labour and delivery?
When labour begins, most people find it hard to be present in the moment, and making decisions can become challenging. Hiring a doula means having someone who will stand by you and check in to see how you’re feeling as you progress in labour. They can also help raise any questions or concerns you may have to your healthcare providers.
Labour is physically and emotionally challenging and if possible, it’s key to have a trusted supporter in those moments. Whether it’s someone making eye contact to make sure you’re ok, a hand on your back, or someone to just remind you to sip water. Doulas strive to be a calm and loving presence on the birth team, bringing you a sense of peace and clarity.
When should I hire a doula?
Doulas are prepared to support mothers before, during and after birth. Many people hire a doula earlier in pregnancy, allowing time to get to know one another, but there are no rules here. You can hire a doula at any stage that you feel you need support.
What can I expect when I hire a doula?
A doula will meet with an expecting mama 2 or 3 times prenatally to learn more about their ideal birth situation, their fears, and even to provide physical support, like teaching positions that promote a smooth birth, and how to switch positions to keep things moving during labour. These meetings can be done in person or virtually.
Contact us to set up an interview with a doula and learn more about our services.
Whether you’re a first or a fourth time mother, the physical and emotional transformation that happens in pregnancy is monumental to say the least. While birth is so normal and happens everyday, it’s also miraculous and full of unknowns. This is what makes your support circle so important when you’re pregnant.
A doula is someone who’s trained, knowledgeable and knows their scope of practice. But above all, most doulas will tell you that their vocation is beyond a career choice- it’s a calling.
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