When a woman finds out she is expecting, her mind begins to race as she begins planning and considering all of the possibilities for her pregnancy. Her labor, delivery, and the postpartum period are constantly running through her mind. Does this sound familiar? I’ve been there. One thing I wish I would have done was to hire a doula.
Are you considering whether or not to hire a doula to support you? If so, you are in the right place!
SPOILER ALERT: The answer is YES. You should hire a doula… keep reading to learn why!
A doula is a skilled and/or trained individual whose purpose is to support a pregnant mother throughout labor, delivery, and postpartum. The doula provides evidence-based information to support the mother in making educated choices that best suit her morals, values, goals, and aspirations.
In cultures around the world, childbirth and postpartum are observed as sacred times where the mother is honored, nurtured, and nourished.
In Western societies (largely more individualistic), women are expected to work through pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum alone. While the new baby is adored by parents and others alike, mothers are left to take care of themselves… even when they have no idea how to. Women supporting women through a transformative period is not only totally natural but incomparably powerful.
At this point, we generally understand what a doula is: a support person.
But what specifically does a doula do?
2 primary types of doulas fulfill different roles. While each of these roles requires a unique set of skills, it is common for a doula to be trained to fulfill both roles. Let’s take a look at those types of doulas:
A birth doula is a support person who is present for the actual labor and delivery. She is present in the room the entire time, and serves the following purposes:
Doulas are not typically medical professionals, but some studies have shown that utilizing birth doula services can shorten labor, lower the risk of medical intervention and prematurity, and increase rates of breastfeeding. There are “virtually no drawbacks [to hiring a doula]” (Carlson, 2021).
A postpartum doula serves a caretaker role for the mother who has given birth. While the mom nurtures and caters to the needs of the newborn baby, the PP doula nurtures and caters to the needs of the mom. This may include the following:
While this may seem unnecessary to some, women who have given birth before are aware of how the postpartum period exposes their vulnerability in a way that nothing else does.
It is so important to have help and support at this time to avoid struggles like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and other mental health challenges.
Still on the fence about whether a doula is right for you? Here are 5 reasons why YOU should hire a doula:
1. Someone to talk to.
Birth and postpartum can be lonely experiences, but having a doula ensures that you will always have someone to talk to.
2. Someone who understands and validates you.
Doulas are experienced in all types of births. No matter what questions you have or what emotions you are feeling, your doula will not judge you. Instead, they will validate your concerns or struggles, and empower you to move on from them in a way that will leave you feeling validated and comfortable.
3. Birth is overwhelming.
Even the most prepared mother will probably experience overwhelming feelings. Even if you have a partner who has thoroughly prepared for birth with hopes of supporting you, they may also feel overwhelmed. The doula will help you both to stay grounded, and will remind you of how capable of this role you truly are!
4. A rested mama is a happy mama!
Sleep deprivation is so common among new parents that it is overlooked as a struggle. Sleep deprivation can be debilitating. Having a doula to help care for the baby, can give the new parents a chance to rest. A rested parent is more patient, calm, and resilient!
5. Someone to guide you along your way.
There are so many things to focus on once your baby arrives, and it can be very easy to lose track of what is most important. A doula can help you remember what you wanted to prioritize, allowing you to bask in the special moments with your newborn while trusting that your doula has your best interest at heart.
By now, you have probably been able to recognize the value of a doula- congratulations! Now that you are ready to begin looking for a doula, here are the most important things to consider:
This is arguably the most important factor in hiring a doula. It is crucial that the birthing person feel comfortable, not only to exist but to ask questions.
Take the time to meet with your potential doula in person whenever possible. Even if they sound great on paper, they won’t be able to serve you as effectively if there is an emotional disconnect!
There are no required qualifications to be a doula. However, many doulas are heavily educated- making them great advocates to have on your side.
Some qualifications you may want your doula to have could include:
If you find what feels like the “perfect” match to act as your doula, but they are located 3 hours away, then they are NOT your perfect match after all!
It can be sad for a location to be a dealbreaker, but unfortunately, it can be. Your doula must be able to reach you quickly in case of an emergency. How many minutes of travel that is exactly is totally up to you!
Having a birth and/or postpartum doula will ensure that you have an understanding, supportive person on your side throughout the extent of your birth, labor, and postpartum experience.
Remember that a well-cared-for mom is much more likely to have a well-cared-for baby. Prioritize your emotional and physical well-being by inviting a doula to join you on your journey, and reap the benefits for years to come.
Best wishes on your birth and postpartum experience!
For information on my Doula Services, click here.
Are you looking for more information on all things pregnancy related? Check out these other blog posts.
Carlson, L. (2021). The Effects of Doula Care on Birth Outcomes and Patient Satisfaction in the United States. The Eleanor Mann School of Nursing Undergraduate Honors Theses Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/nursuht/160
February 25, 2022