Birth Doula Blog
So, maybe you are new to this doula thing or all of your friends have gotten one for their labors and swear they couldn't have done it without the help of a doula. Now you're wondering if you should get one too. I mean, all the cool kids are doing it, right?
Even though I'd love your business, I'm not going to lie to you. Doulas aren't the only ones who can improve your birth experience. I say it all the time, surround yourself with the RIGHT people! Studies have shown that having doula support during pregnancy and labor can decrease your chances of a C-section, need for pain medication, and assisted delivery. We can also increase your overall satisfaction with your birth experience and improve breastfeeding and bonding outcomes. But how does a doula have that effect and can anyone else give you those amazing outcomes?
Well, lean in and I'll tell you a secret. Doulas aren't magical beings who also happen to be good luck charms in scrub pants. We are just people who know, care, and do! What sets us apart from nurses is that we provide continuous labor support (something nearly impossible for hospital staff) and we've also established a relationship with the parents during pregnancy. What sets us apart from your partner is that we have lots of birth knowledge and experience.
You might be wondering, "Can't my husband or my sister be my doula?" Answer: Absolutely yes, but there is a big but! There's nothing more powerful than love and safety during labor and no one can provide it better than your partner. Deep gazes and physical touch from your partner or close friend increase the oxytocin levels responsible for strong, effective contractions. They likely have me beat in the love department and I am thankful to have them on the team. But, this is where the big BUT comes in...your partner/sister likely doesn't have the knowledge and experience a doula has. I wish love alone could carry you through labor, but you need someone who will tell you things straight up, offer solutions and options, and help you make sense of the process.
Here's the good news, though. If you have a partner/friend who is feverishly committed to taking an active role in the birth experience, then they definitely can help! Having a partner or friend present at birth can still give you similar results to a doula. Here are my recommendations for having a rockstar experience with a loved one as your doula.
Your support person should:
• Read The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin to learn how to physically, emotionally, and informationally support you
• Attend a birth class
• Discuss your birth wishes to truly understand what you want, why they're important, and how they can support them
• Practice touch techniques with you and use birth tools during pregnancy
• Watch YouTube videos that show the kind of birth you're hoping for
• Understand what your options are if things don't go as planned
• Be willing to offer you non-judgmental advice
Truly ask if your partner/mom/sister is willing to meet ALL of these requirements. Doulas are effective because we are prepared and educated. You need to make sure your partner is as well. If you're still on the fence about whether or not they've got what it takes, you can still hire a doula and have her take a different role to help guide your partner and step in when needed.