Why You Should Have A Doula at Your Birth
before we talk about why you should have a doula at your birth, first, what is a doula? the word “doula” comes from the ancient greek meaning “a woman who serves.” today it’s used in reference to a trained and experienced professional who provides non-medical but continuous support to a birthing woman in the form of informational, emotional and physical ways. this is typically referred to a ‘birthing doula.’ then there is also a ‘postpartum doula’ who will come in after the baby is born and support in that transition. she will help ensure the nursing latch is correct, may cook and clean for you and help you transition into your new life with a newborn!
i have been asked a lot of questions around why and how we chose our doula erika with nurture the mother. this post will be best organized if i do a little Q&A to help make it clear why!
why did you want a doula?
i wrote about why it was important for me to have a natural birth at a birth center here. because i had never given birth before, my mind was having a hard time processing what it would be like (and goodness knows i love to process things). i wanted someone who could help me decide when it was time to move from laboring at home to the birth center and to coach me through the process. because i didn’t use any medication, it was important to me to have someone that had education around ways to relieve pain and discomfort in a natural way.
what about your husband/partner? isn’t it his job to be your support?
my husband has never been through a birth either! doulas are specifically trained to help support both parents during the process. my husband was initially hesitant because he did feel like his job was the same as the doulas but after we learned more, it is not!
when we met with erika, she explained that she would help ensure that he is cared for too (food/water/bathroom) so that he can meet my emotional needs. she was more than open to hearing his initial reservations and explaining that she would do a great job of teaching him ways to best support me, physically and emotionally. she said “i am the guardian of the birth space so you both can just be.”
but you already have a midwife, how is this different?
what i loved about my birth center (mountain midwifery in englewood, co) is that they absolutely encourage doulas! the difference is that again, doulas are not medical professionals but rather they know about comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning. most importantly, a doula is with you during your whole active labor while a midwife and OB/GYN is not. they are checking on other people and have other responsibilities while a doula’s sole purpose is you.
a doula is also there to help advocate for you and the birth you want. she is especially helpful in facilitating communication between the mother’s wishes and the care providers.
again, doulas do not perform clinical tasks or give any type of medical advice. her purpose is to be a support first to the birthing woman and then her partner. they do not deliver babies and they do not have shift changes. it’s incredibly helpful to have that consistent person who knows the progression of labor and ways to make you feel most comfortable.
i’m having a hospital birth, do you think a doula would be helpful?
absolutely YES! i feel like a doula is even more vital in a hospital setting, especially if you are wanting a more natural birth or things to be done a certain way. this might include delayed cord clamping, immediate skin-to-skin, want to exclusively breastfeed, etc.
my sister also chose a natural birth in a hospital and she expressed how vital it was to have her doula! again, the advocacy part is huge. you will go through your birth plan with your doula and she will be able to ensure that your needs and desires are heard, adhered to (as long as still medically safe) all while supporting you. she knows the lingo and should be very experienced in both birth center and hospital births.
according to a study in 2012, hodnett et al. published an updated Cochrane review on the use of continuous support for women during childbirth. the study included over 15,000 women and based on this study, they found that women who received continuous support were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have any pain medication, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, c-sections or forcep-assisted births. also their labors were shorter by 40 minutes! they also found that the best results occurred when women had continuous labor support from a doula specifically – as opposed to solely having a staff member at hospital or someone part of the woman’s social network.
how did you pick your doula?
my mom actually recommended me checking out having a doula (smart woman!) she is also very resourceful so she started asking around for recommendations of doulas people have used. she also gets full credit for recommending erika jones of nurture the mother! one of her coworkers worked with her and had only positive and amazing things to say about her.
my husband and i met her for coffee one afternoon, when i was about 6 months pregnant, to see if we would all jive, ask questions and talk about the process. it was casual and comfortable – both things that were important to be since this woman was about to get to know me quite intimately! she has an awesome sense of humor and has the perfect combination of straight-shooting and warmth to her. my husband and i immediately liked her and appreciated that she took the time to answer my long list of question and address the concerns my husband had since he wanted to be extremely involved in the birth.
how does it all work?
each doula will have her own slightly unique way of doing things but i loved what erika provided. we had two prenatal visits in our home before labor. the first one she asked about our birth plan, did some relationship building between us (loved that) and learned more about who we are and what type of birth i wanted. the second prenatal visit was more hands-on, we went around our home and she showed me various positions to labor in before we it was active labor time! during the second one she also helped me learn how to get into optimal fetal positioning to ensure our daughter was in the best position to birth!
my favorite was the nest of pillows she made for me!
erika also does 1-2 times postpartum follow-up right after you have your baby so she can check on you, brings you a lovely basket of goodies and ensure the babe is latching correctly! she is certified in lactation so she’s knowledgable about how to help ensure it’s comfortable for you and your baby.
what did she do during your birthing process?
oh my goodness – she played SUCH an important role in my birth! if you haven’t read my birth story, catch up on part I and part II! as you read, i had an intense labor, with about 17 hours of back labor and three hours of hard pushing.
it relieved so much of my anxiety instantly when my husband called erika and she said she was on her way over to our home. she had a birthing playlist all queued up on her phone, she lit candles in the bath and helped show my husband ways to press on my back to relieve some of the pressure. she has a great calming energy and since she has assisted over 300 women during their birthing process, she knows the transitions of labor quite well!
i didn’t know it at the time, but it was actually erika who recommended all the various positions i changed to during the process. that was so helpful because she could read me and know that it was time to try something else. she was also diligent in making sure i kept up my fluids and made requests to the nurse such as warm blankets, wash cloths and the vital honey that helped me finally push out sweet baby atlas!
would you recommend getting one?
if you can’t tell from the above writing – YES YES YES! if you are in the denver metro area, i would absolutely recommend erika with nurture the mother! she will forever be an important part of atlas’ birth story!
have you considered having a doula at your birth?