Why We Have a Birth Doula

Friday, December 4, 2015
Happy Friday! Last night was the weirdest night we've had in a long time.

First, Aria was really strange at bed time. Usually we do her whole bedtime routine (wash up, brush teeth, read books, sing songs) and then when it's time to lay down and actually go to sleep, she flips and flops around and asks for water or oils 578 times.
Last night she said she just asked me to hold her tight, and fell asleep in my arms, without any of the usual resistance.

Then, while laying there with her, I started having a lot of very consistent cramping, to the point that I thought I was going into labor. I immediately started to cry because I realized in that moment that it was the last time it would just be the two of us.
Pregnancy hormones anyone?

Spoiler alert...it wasn't labor. I'm still pregnant.

I was feeling really bad, physically, all evening, so I took a long bath. After my bath, the tub somehow started leaking through the floor and ceiling, into the kitchen...at 11 o'clock at night. It was everywhere! We're still dealing with that one....

Strange night. Which is also why this post is up so late in the day.

I've talked a few times about our doula and how I'm so happy we have her as part of our birth experience.
I'm a huge supporter of having a doula as part of your pregnancy, birth and postpartum, no matter what type of birth you are planning.
Even as a trained doula myself, I still feel it's essential for me to have that outside, unique support from a professional, who has a genuine passion for birth.

A doula by definition is someone who offers physical and emotional support to a woman and her partner before, during and after childbirth. She "mother's the mother".

1. Doulas have experience in many different variations of labor and birth. 

Birth is unpredictable. Always. Having someone there who has experienced and supported women through many different variations of labor, can be very helpful. Not only can she be a calming presence, but she can help you to navigate through your experience physically, emotionally and with the endless options available.

2. Doulas offer unbiased, neutral information to the mother and her partner, enabling them to make the best decision for them. 

A doula understands that this is your birth and your baby. She has no agenda and is truly only interested in what you want for your birth. She has the education, experience and knowledge to present information and options to you and your partner, but does so in an unbiased way, to allow you to find your best path. Additionally, she is trained to ask questions to get you to think outside the box and help you find what that path is.

3. Doulas work with the partner to support the mother.

There is a common misconception that if you have a doula, she will replace your partner, and your partner may be phased out. That couldn't be further from the truth.

A doula's purpose is to support the mother and partner. Through getting to know you and through observing how you and your partner work together during labor, she will use her experience and knowledge to figure out the best way for her to support the two of you, working together. A big part of what you can talk about during the prenatal period is how the three of you can work together.

A mother's partner knows her in a way her doula never could, and a doula knows things about birth that the partner could never fully understand.

4. Doulas also support the partner.

For a couple, birth is often full of the unknown. Having an experienced person there to answer questions for the partner can help him/her to feel calm and comforted. Additionally, a doula will make sure the partner's needs are being met. During a long labor she will stay will mom, while the partner takes care of his needs (ie. eating, resting), etc. etc.

5. Your doula can help you prepare for your prenatal appointment.

Doulas are trained to help you navigate all of the options offered to you during pregnancy and for your birth.

Before your prenatal appointments, you can talk with your doula to help you formulate any questions to ask your care provider. Sometimes during appointments, things just roll along so quickly that by the end you don't really know what to ask. Then by the time you go back for your next appointment, you find yourself in the same cycle.

Your doula has supported clients through the pregnancy and birth experience numerous times and can be a good touch stone before your appointment, to discuss where you are in your pregnancy and what it's a good time to start thinking about.

Additionally, if you start to approach the time your care provider want's to discuss induction, your doula can help you with questions to ask, to ensure you are being offered all of the possible options. There are many ways to start an induction. You don't necessarily have to start with pitocin.

6. Your doula can also help you navigate the postpartum period. 

The postpartum period is often forgotten about during pregnancy. We concentrate so much on the pregnancy and birth aspect, that we forget to think much about what happens once we get home. Your doula can help you plan for your care, newborn care and talk with you about what you may experience.
Also, she will often be there for you during that time to talk and process through your experience.

7. Many doulas offer childbirth education as well. 

Doulas are trained in newborn care, breastfeeding, relaxation for labor, massage, reflexology, and a number of other childbirth education topics, which can be invaluable to you as a client!

8. Doulas are trained to support women through any type of birth. 

Doulas aren't just for women planning a medication free birth. A doula is trained to support a woman through any type of birth. A doula's role extends from pregnancy through after birth, not just during the time you are in labor.

9. Women who work with doulas are 40% less likely to have a cesarean.

Some of the reasons for this are; because the doula is with the couple for the duration of labor. She can offer options of different techniques to help the mother remain comfortable, while encouraging the labor to progress. Failure to progress is a very common reason that ends up leading to an unscheduled cesarean.

If baby is posterior, she can offer position changes and other ideas to try to help turn baby. If the cervix has a lip, she can offer ideas to help with that as well. Should there be another reason labor isn't progressing, your doula will go above and beyond to ensure that she has tapped into and exhausted every possible scenario to help you achieve the birth you want. She has a lot of experience with numerous different variations of labor.

10. A doula can make the birth experience more enjoyable. 

Having a doula can help a mother and her partner go into their birth experience feeling confident and empowered, by supporting them and arming them with knowledge and options.

12. She can help you identify options for unexpected things, in the moment.

Because doulas have seen a number of different ways a birth can unfold, they have experience in helping couples navigate through these times of the unexpected. Should something unexpected arise in the hospital, she can help you through those conversations with doctors and nurses, and help you to ask the right questions to gather all of the information you need to make an informed decision. You're much less likely to find yourself in a situation where you felt something was just sprung on you and you didn't have choices, or the chance to make a decision.

12. You are less likely to have unwanted procedures. 

There are a number of procedures that can occur during the labor process, birth process and postpartum (with your baby). A doula can discuss some of these with you during pregnancy to help you identify what is important to you and where you stand on these procedures, so you can in turn discuss with your care provider.

Additionally, during labor, she will be there to help ensure your needs are being met and wishes are being honored.

13. A doula can help you find the right pediatrician and care provider. 

I've mentioned before how your doula is trained to ask questions to help you make the best decision for you. When it comes to finding a care provider or a pediatrician, she can help you navigate the questions to ask yourself and to ask potential care providers that you interview, to determine if they are right for you.

Additionally, she can share with you some of the common questions clients ask, and the not so common...to give you the full spectrum. She will likely have heard it all, and will have insight on questions that may have never even crossed your mind to ask.

14. She can offer support for breastfeeding. 

I mentioned breastfeeding support when I touched on childbirth education, but I wanted to be sure to dive more deeply into it because it is so important.

Doulas are trained in breastfeeding support. And your doula is there for you, to support you. Having someone there who has supported a number of women and who genuinely is invested in you, while having so much knowledge, is so valuable.
She can also help you prepare for breastfeeding before the baby is born, and can help postpartum, in your home.

15. Your doula will share in your excitement and emotion. 

A doula get's into this type of work because she has a true passion for birth and supporting women. There is no other reason to become a doula. She will truly be excited for you and will offer support you didn't even know you wanted or needed.

I could go on all day about how valuable having a doula is. Birth is such a special experience and unfortunately many women aren't offered all of the information or choices that they are entitled to. And even further than that, having the support of someone who is 100% there for you and your needs and has no other agenda,  during such a life changing experience, is so worth it.

Well, were' off to walk Harper and search for a christmas movie for family movie night.
Have a great weekend everyone!

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