Guest Post by Andrea Williams, Labour and Postpartum Doula at Maternal Instinct Doula Care.
As childbirth becomes more and more medicalized, savvy women are contracting the services of women in a rather traditional line of work. They’re hiring a doula.
A doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides informational, physical and emotional support to expectant families throughout pregnancy, labour and the first few weeks of their baby’s life. She can be a vital part of your birthing team.
Let me shed some light on what a birth doula actually does:
- A doula will meet with you for an initial consultation to discuss her qualifications, philosophies on birth and her experience. (Click here for a list of questions to ask potential doulas.) Some doulas may charge for this, but in this doula’s opinion, it should be free. When was the last time you were paid for a job interview?
- Once you’ve hired your doula, she’ll meet with you to discuss your birth wishes, answer any questions that you may have about pain relief, medical interventions and other pregnancy and labour-related topics and provide evidence based information to help you make informed decisions. She might also go over positions for birthing and their benefits. Some doulas provide in-home, private prenatal classes tailored to their clients' specific circumstances. Many doulas also offer phone and email support during the prenatal period.
- Your doula will usually meet you at home during early labour, when you are ready for support. Your doula will assist you by suggesting labour positions that will help ease your discomfort, using massage techniques and other comfort measures, and coaching you through each contraction. Your doula will encourage your partner to be actively involved in your labour by guiding him or her on how to help you. She’ll also help you decide when it’s time to call your midwife or go to the hospital and will remain with you, offering continuous support and encouragement until your baby is born.
- Once your baby is born, your doula will help you initiate the first breast feeding. She will usually remain with you for up to two hours until you are ready for quiet time with your new family. She will meet with you again in the first few weeks to discuss your birth experience and share her own perspective on your birth.
How effective is a doula’s support during labour? Clinical studies have shown that women supported by doulas have:
- Significantly fewer c-sections
- Fewer requests for epidural
- Higher likelihood of a natural birth.
- Lower instances of medical interventions.
- Greater success with breastfeeding.
- Lower risk of postpartum mood disorders.
Your doula works for you, not the hospital, so you can be sure that your best interests are her first priority. While she should never offer medical advice, she uses her knowledge and experience to help you make the best choices for you and your family.
Question Of The Day: Have you or anyone you know had experience with a Doula?
Andrea Williams is a DONA trained labour doula, a CAPPA trained postpartum doula and a mother. She and all of the Maternal Instinct doulas make it her number one goal to ensure that their clients feel safe and supported throughout their labour and postpartum periods.