If you are part of a birthing group online and talking about childbirth odds are you have read or at least seen the term birth doula a lot. But you may not know what one is and if it would be good for your birthing experience. Unfortunately, some births do not go as planned. Sometimes this is simply because the mother does not have the support, knowledge, and advocacy needed to keep things moving in the right direction. Giving birth is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences you will have. And a birth doula can be an amazing asset to help make labor and delivery the best experience possible.
What is a birth doula?
A birth doula is an amazing asset in your birthing experience. Most birth doulas have given birth themselves and have the first-hand experience in the process. For new mothers that do not have the support of a trusted person that has experienced birth first hand this can be helpful. However, doulas are not just for first-time birthers! All birthing people can benefit from having a doula with them during labor and delivery. No matter whether it’s in a hospital, birthing center, or at home.
Your birthing doula is trained to provide emotional and physical support for the labor and birthing process. A birthing doula acts as an advocate to ensure that the birthing mother is not pushed into things she does not want. And is there to help enforce the mother’s birthing plan. For mothers that have had a poor prior birthing experience, a birth doula can be a major blessing! A doula can help them feel safe and secure so they can have a great birthing experience.
Many birthing mothers have their partner with them as a support person. Your partner may be a great asset and comfort in the birthing process, or they may not. But they do not have the training and experience to provide the assistance you may need. For the best labor and delivery experience, you can have a birthing doula with you as well to help make the entire process easier for everyone. Your birthing partner can greatly benefit from the guidance, information, and support from a birth doula.
What are the benefits of using a doula for your birth? Aka: why do I need a doula? What can a doula do for me?
A doula can stick up for you when needed.
Sometimes mothers are pushed into doing things that are in the doctor’s best interest. Not that of the mother and baby during labor. This is because it is easy to talk a woman that is in extreme pain into doing things like laying flat on their back which can slow the birthing process. Or medical terms may get thrown around that feel big and scary and overwhelming. Your birthing doula is there and ready to step in. One of the biggest benefits of having a doula is they make sure Drs follow what is best for you and your baby.
Your doula is trained to provide the physical you need. Doulas are trained in practices that can help with everything from positioning your baby to helping with pain management. They can help you find better laboring positions, massage your back to help fight back labor pains, and help your partner bring you comfort.
Giving birth is an emotional situation for you and your birthing partner. Birthing doulas help to keep you calm and make you feel supported so the birthing process can go as smoothly as possible. They know how to handle the stress and emotional turmoil of birth. And know how to help put you in the best state of mind for your body and hormones to complete the process of birth as smoothly as possible.
For my previous doulas, this was an important part of our prenatal meetings. Letting them know what helps me and what doesn’t. Sharing that I was studying and implementing the hypnobirthing techniques gave them time to read the books I was reading and listen to hypnobirthing audio relaxation as well. This way we were connected and on the same page with coping techniques.
Whoever you choose as your birthing partner can benefit from the support of an extra person with the knowledge to help you and even able to take over for a few so they can take a break and rest allowing your partner to be strong and awake when you need them the most.
For our first experience with a birth doula, my partner was against spending the money. But I knew how important it was for me so I saved extra monies on the side to pay for my doula. And do you want to know one of the very first things my partner said to me after that birth? “Wow, she was worth every penny. I’m so glad you didn’t listen to me and hired her. That was incredible and she even helped me cope and relax!”
And then something really cool happened. Just out of my first trimester with our third baby, my partner brought up having a birth doula again. So as much as I have loved my doulas, so has my partner!
Help when you need it.
Sometimes the birthing floor can get really busy and the nurses are unable to provide the help and support you need for simple things like ice chips, birthing tools, and other basics. Your doula can find out at the beginning of the process where things like the ice machine are so they can help provide you with what you need even if the nurses are busy. Your birthing doula is also trained to know when it is necessary to call in a nurse to check on you so even if the floor is too busy for them to check in on you often you can have the best care possible.
If you’re birthing out of the hospital, your doula can and will do the same things. They can grab you a snack or refill of your drink from your kitchen. You might have set up special words or phrases that when said to your doula gives them a hint of what you need. Another cold wet washcloth on the back of your neck, starting hypnobirthing relaxation techniques, getting the tub ready if you’re having a water birth.
Help in the moments following the birth.
Your birth doula can help to make sure you get the right care in the moments after birth. And help you get cleaned up and settled in for recovery. They can give you information on how to care for your baby, assist with the first feedings, and answer any questions you may have directly after the birth. One of my favorite things about having a doula is that she checks in on ME several times postpartum. Your doula will want to ensure that you are doing well and answer any questions you may have about your recovery and baby.
A birth doula is worth it.
A birth doula can help you make the most of your birth whether it be in the hospital or at home birth with a midwife. Having a doula with me during labor and delivery 100% changed things for me. She was able to help get me through times when I wasn’t sure if I could make it. When contractions started getting uncomfortable she already knew I liked water and heat. So my doula started the shower, grabbed me a towel, helped me undress, and get in the shower. After birth, she was in the kitchen making me a salad and a smoothie.
Don’t get me wrong – my midwives and partner are amazing. They are supportive, they are kind, they hear me and they are receptive. But the midwives job is to keep an eye and ear on the baby during labor and birth. My partner very much struggles with seeing me in any type of discomfort. And has no idea what to do with himself when he can’t “fix” it. So my doula is there for ME. My comfort, my needs, me me me.
Got birth on your mind? You may be interested in:
- My med-free water birth
- My out of hospital birth center supply checklist
- 8 ways to naturally prep your body for labor
Where can I find a local birth doula?
- Check out DONA International for resources on finding a local birth doula!
- Ask your OB/midwives if they have doulas they have enjoyed working with in the past. Mine has a digital copy they happily send out with direct links to websites, phone numbers, and emails.
- Post in your local mom/parenting group, asking for suggestions on other local parent’s favorite doulas. That has always been my first step in finding a doula.