by Moran Liviani.
The word ‘Doula’ is becoming a bit more well known these days because women intuitively know and are seeking the guidance of another woman whom understands and has the knowledge and is trained to support, educate and be the trusting guide you need to light your way on your birthing day.
When I was pregnant with my second baby girl I had a friend suggest to me to obtain the services of a Doula. I had no idea what a Doula was and so I started researching and the more I read the more I knew that this was exactly what I needed for my birthing day. I had a lot of fear coming up to my birth as my first labour and birth was quite traumatic and so I knew that if I didn’t take it upon myself to do things differently this time than I would end up with another disempowered experience and difficult post partum.
So I hired a Doula whom educated me on my choices in birth, discussed my fears and she exposed me to birthing videos, books that contained countless birthing stories and so the more I knew, the more I felt empowered that I can do this and the thing that gave me the most reassurance is knowing she was going to be there so I wouldn’t have to do it alone as she had 3 births of her own and knew what birth was going to be like so I looked at her with a great sense of trust.
In my own personal opinion a ‘Doula’ is a must for your birthing day because…
- She will educate you… She will sit with you and listen to you and see what you already know, what information you seek, and she will guide you through your birthing choices and plan out your preferences for the day for most scenarios that might occur. These birth preferences she will prepare with you as your wish list for the day so that you can still feel that empowerment and not feel overwhelmed if things don’t go to plan. She will also direct you to evidence based information so that you are able to make informed choices and aid your partner on how to best advocate for you so that it can ease your mind.
- Be a support to your partner… let me draw you a visualization…your in labour, your partner has done the antenatal classes with you, sat through all your Doula sessions and felt prepared however in the woes of established labour and as your vocalization gets stronger and movement getting deeper he rings the Doula to come. The Doula arrives at the front door to your partner looking pale white with a huge sense of relief on his face that he doesn’t have to face this alone. The partners have such a big job to do on the birthing day as well and for them to be completely and fully there for you they also need the space to be able to breathe. They will be hydrating you, feeding you, wiping your face, advocating for you and they are also going through this emotional experience as this is the birth of their child too! So to have someone there to share the load, to tell them its ok and this is what births looks like and to allow your partner to just take a break from this and also enjoy this moment speaks volumes as to what a Doula can do in supporting your partner on the day.
- Normalize the experience for you… I remember in my birth one of the biggest things that I needed from my Doula is for her to just be there. Sometimes I would just need her to say, ‘your doing well’, ‘this is what birth is’, ‘let it intensify as that’s signaling that your body is doing exactly what it needs to do’ and with these words I let my inner strength guide me through but I needed those words from someone who knew what births looks like! So when you hit that brick wall which you sometimes do in any birth, this is the reassurance you need to put the situation back into perspective and keep going.
- Support you… One of the biggest things a Doula does is support you before and during the birth. She will be available to you at pretty much anytime before you go into labour for questions, suggestions, guidance and reassurance and during the birth she will ask questions for you, create an environment for you that will aid your labour to progress with less distraction, she will suggest positions, she will massage you so you can let go, she will sit with you for hours and help you cope through each and every surge and she will encourage you, advocate for you and support your birthing choices whatever they may be whether it’s a medicated or unmedicated birth and she will listen and be your guide so you never feel your going through this alone.
- Continuity of care… so the question I get asked a lot is… what is the difference between a Midwife and a Doula? A Doula is a nonmedical birth support person and she will be there from the moment you call her that you need her till a few hours after the birth of your baby. A Midwife is your care provider at the birth, she is responsible for yours and your baby’s medical well being and she will work in shifts with other Midwives so you may not get the same Midwife through the entirety of your birth unless you are hiring a private Midwife which brings us to the topic of continuity of care. That continuous care in birth has been shown to be more beneficial for mums and babies. Because most women birth without a private Midwife therefore to have that same person with you through your birth like a Doula is what gives mum the confidence to know that this person that she trusts is by her side which will not only empower her to keep going but lessens the chance of her asking for pain relief.
And in the words of Dr. J.H. Kennell: “If doulas were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”