I have a supportive partner, why would I want a birth doula too?
When I found out I was pregnant with my first baby, I was completely clueless. Like I didn't know anything about anything. I had held and fed my nephew, even gotten up with him in the night a few times when he was a baby, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Somehow, somewhere, I learned the term doula. I was sold almost immediately. And within my inner core, I knew I wanted an unmedicated labor and birth. I knew my husband would be there to support me, but I also recognized that he understood even less than me. I needed another support person there with us. Enter my birth doula. She was like an angel from heaven. Her simple presence was enough, but of course she offered much more. I felt like I needed 2 (well I guess 3) levels of support: my partner who was supporting me out of love for me and our child, my doula who was supporting me with knowledge and as a strong female presence, and my medical team who I trusted to keep us safe.
So, what do birth doulas do exactly? So much in many ways and in many ways, so little.
Birth doulas hold space. What does that mean? It means they see, know, and understand the sacredness of labor and birth, of bringing your child "earthside". They hold space for that. By simply BEING there in the space with you, they make all the difference in the world.
Doulas provide continuous labor support. This can look like virtual communication during early labor or in person support. Many doulas will meet you at your birthing place once you're believed to have reached active labor (they also help with understanding what labor stage you're experiencing). And they typically stay with you until a few hours after baby is born. They are often the only person (other than your support person/partner) who is continuously there with you since nurses and doctors have shift changes.
Birth doulas give hands-on physical support. They are trained in multiple comfort measures and positions that help to ease labor discomfort and help baby to navigate labor easier and hopefully more efficiently.
Doulas have a wealth of knowledge. They see and understand happenings within labor that the birthing person or partner might not. They can help you to advocate for yourselves by pointing out and translating what's happening, what labor staff is communicating etc. They can buy you time to make informed decisions together.
A labor doula is a caring, calming, nurturing presence. Sometimes that's really all a birthing person needs. Doulas read the room and act accordingly. If all is flowing, they hold that space. They step in with emotional, verbal, and physical support where necessary.
Birth doulas usually meet with the birthing couple prior to labor to walk them through what the experience might be like, what to expect, how she will help, ways the partner can be supportive, what to pack, when to head to your birthing space and on and on.
Honestly, birth doulas are INVALUABLE. I would not have wanted to have either of my babies without one. And they inspired me to do what I do now. I completely changed my career and life to follow this path, because they made SUCH an impact on my birth and, therefore, my life.
If you're expecting a baby, I highly recommend looking into birth doulas in your area. You won't regret it.
Thanks for reading this far and stay tuned or keep reading for the next 2 installments in my birth doula series: "Will a birth doula overshadow my partner?" and "I want a medicated birth so why would I need a birth doula?"