What is a doula?
A doula is a “woman who serves.” Whether it is answering questions about birth options, holding a mama’s hand through a contraction and making sure the partner is taken care of, or cooking and cleaning after the baby is born, a doula supports families. She is available to be with the mama (and partner) throughout the whole labor, helping with pain-coping measures, offering encouragement and both physical and emotional support. She provides information and non-medical advice during the prenatal period, reassurance, guidance, and support during labor, and can be a source of referrals in the post partum period.
Does a doula take the place of the partner?
Absolutely not. A doula isn’t there to take the partner’s place, but rather to help coach them to be a better support for mama. Doulas work with the partner to make the birthing journey the best one possible. She shows pain-relief measures in prenatal appointments so that the partner can help ease mama’s pain. During labor, whether short or long, she reminds the partner to eat and drink and rest, so that he or she is awake and alert when their baby is born. She is someone familiar to the birthing process, which puts less stress on the partner, who may have no experience in a hospital or birth setting. Laboring women need doulas and partners in very different ways. A doula is not there to replace the partner, but to work with them and help guide them during this life-changing event.
Are doulas really that helpful during the birthing process?
Check out this article from evidencebasedbirth.com and see what you think!
What about postpartum?
Postpartum is an extremely sensitive time in a new family’s life. Roles are shifted, sleep doesn’t happen, and everything is a blur. Postpartum doulas can help in many different roles. Sometimes families need an extra hand with the baby in those first few days – from breastfeeding to bathing, doulas can support, encourage, and show families ways to care for their new baby. Other times, there are additional children or pets that need attention. A doula can help here, too. Another way of supporting new families is by cleaning, cooking, running errands, and doing other tasks, so that the new family unit can adjust. Plus, there is no need to entertain a doula. She’s there to help you and yours and doesn’t need small talk! Y’all need to sleep and eat and shower, after all! Lastly, sometimes mamas and partners just want to do something to make them feel ‘normal’ again. Going for a walk, reading a book, playing a game on their phone, having an hour to chat with their partner – and they want to do it without a little baby attached to them. Most postpartum doulas have experience in caring for newborn babies and can simply be arms to hold the wee one while mama and partner (and even other children) get some ‘me’ time.
Want to find a doula in your area? Check out this site!