Doulas are here to help you have a safer, easier, faster birth by providing continuous emotional, physical, and informational support in pregnancy, birth and the early postpartum period.
Okaaaay, cool. What does that actually mean?
Based on experiences I've had supporting clients, this is a list of what doulas actually do.
With any given client, a doula:
- answers your questions about whether or not that stuff you just found in your underwear is your mucus plug.
- troubleshoots with you on ways you can get more comfortable sleep at the end of pregnancy.
- checks in with you after your doctor or midwife's appointments to talk through any new information that came up and process how it might affect your plans for labor and birth.
- shares referrals to the best prenatal yoga classes, prenatal massage therapists, chiropractors, or birth classes.
- talks to you on the phone when you start feeling contractions to help you figure out if this is labor-labor or just warming up.
- answers your calls and texts in the middle of the night when those contractions aren't going away...but you don't need your doula to come to you yet...but you DO need some ideas on how to get more comfortable as you wait for contractions to become longer, stronger, and closer together.
- drops everything and gets to you within an hour when you decide you would like more support.
- suggests different ideas throughout your labor to help your labor progress, to help you get more comfortable, and to give you options and choices.
- squeezes your hips for the duration of every contraction when you are feeling it all in your back.
- looks you in the eyes and smiles encouragingly when some new crazy thing happens in labor, reassuring you that this isn't just normal but actually a great sign!
- keeps the environment (including everyone around you) feeling calm and supportive.
- quietly suggests to your partner that they push on your knees (in just the right place!) to relieve some of the intensity of a contraction in a certain position.
- rubs your back between surges to help you relax and rest.
- recognizes the signs just in time to get a trashcan or bag in front of you before you throw up.
- reminds you of your preferences and goals when labor gets challenging.
- supports you in getting what you need if your priorities change.
- turns off the lights, shuts the door, and keeps the curtains pulled every time someone comes in and out of your room.
- gives you a foot rub (for, like, an hour!) after you get an epidural, while you can still feel some sensation and pressure in your feet.
- gently asks you if you need a little time to process your decision when a new course of action is proposed by your caregiver.
- suggests you labor on the toilet for a while to help your baby descend and you to relax.
- listens outside the bathroom for contractions that sound like you are starting to feel pushy at the peaks of your contractions.
- feeds you ice chips between pushes, or in recovery after a cesarean birth.
- gives your friends or family members in the waiting room updates on how you're doing while you soak up your new baby during the golden hour after birth.
- helps you get your baby latched on in that first hour.
- checks in with you 24-48 hours after you gave birth to find out how you are feeling...and validate for you the intense emotional experience of those early days postpartum!
- comes to your house in the first week after you give birth to process the birth experience, remind you what a badass you are, and laugh (or cry!) with you about things that happened during labor.
These are just SOME of the things I find myself doing for my clients. Every birth is different, so my support is always personalized to your needs.
Now I want to hear from you! Did any of these things surprise you? If you've had a doula before, what were some things your doula did during your birth?