Photo Credit Britt Fohrman
Having been a doula (professional childbirth assistant) from 2002 – 2009, it seems so clear why having a doula with you before, during and after birth would not only be helpful, but necessary. I remember countless births where I knew in every cell of my body that had I not been there, the outcome would have been dramatically different. Simply put, just my presence made a difference in how things went.
A few things that I can say without a shadow of a doubt based on my own experience as a doula, but more importantly, from the feedback that I receive from my childbirth class students about the experiences they had working with their doula…
A doula makes you feel more at ease. She helps you feel confident. She explains what’s happening and normalizes what you’re feeling. She helps the partner know what to do and what not to do. She carries your bags, parks the car, knows where to go, knows which procedures are easy to negotiate and which ones are needed. She helps you get the information you need so you can make an informed choice. She helps you stay connected to your intentions, and keeps you focusing on your baby so you have more motivation. She is caring. She is calm. You know her. You trust her. She is there for you with physical support, techniques and tools, and provides a space for you to share your deepest concerns and fears. She trusts births, and she trusts your inner wisdom. She is an extra set up hands to hold you, make your food, or clean up the mess. She will hold your hair if you need to vomit, or she’ll give your partner a cool cloth to put on your neck. She knows how to be quiet and has communication skills to encourage others to do the same.
Seriously… If you are wanting to have a positive birth experience, where you, the mom, is directing the experience (while surrendering to the mystery of birth :-), you need a doula. If the mom doesn’t think she needs a doula, think about it like this… The dad/partner needs a doula. Dad/partner needs to eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, and potentially take breaks. Mom should always have someone she knows and trusts by her side, or outside the door if she wants private time. A doula is someone who has professional training and experience with birth, not a family member or close friend. Whereas family members and close friends may be a loving addition to a birth experience, family and friends are not able to support a laboring mom from a neutral perspective. There is just too much invested in the relationship.
Read the article “The Evidence for Doulas”, by Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, APRN.
If you live in the San Francisco or Marin area, please contact me for a list of doulas who work most frequently with my students.