So you may have heard the term "birth doula" or "labor doula" a time or two lately on shows, social media and even the news. You may be expecting or planning to be at some point and wondering what the heck a birth doula actually does!
What is a Birth/Labor Doula?
A birth doula is a person trained in the art of supporting a birthing woman and her partner while she gives birth. This training and support is not limited to the birthing room and almost always includes prenatal education!
What does a birth doula learn during training?
- The stages of pregnancy
- Common complaints and how to help
- The stages of labor
- What to expect with each stage and how to support someone through it
- Comfort measures both physical and emotional like breathing techniques, using birth balls and counter pressure (to name only a few!)
- How to support the father
- Breastfeeding assistance
- What to expect immediately postpartum
- Learn about common or routine tests and procedures preformed prenatally and during birth
- Learn about pain management both medical and non medical
- Cesarean birth process, what to expect and how to help
Student doulas? What's that all about?
There are NO student doulas! Doulas take an in person training course and learn the above things then go on to continue their education through a certification process BUT they a fully equipped to support a birthing woman prenatally and during birth right after their training course is complete! Good doulas are "naturals" they are helpers that make people feel at ease. Their natural demeanor and training enable them to do their job well. Support and connection are key!
What will a birth doula do while I'm pregnant?
This will vary depending on the individuals needs. Usually there are two prenatal appointments that are spent getting to know each other and learning your desired plans for your birth. Then they dive into what you need and want to know, practice techniques, talk things through and get you the information you request. They even help you write birth plans which always seems to be a weight lifted for the parents to be!
What do they do during the birth?
They do a lot! Sometimes that looks like quietly holding a hand or grabbing fresh water or a snack. sometimes its HOURS of back to back hip squeezes and sacrum presses. It's can be a loving voice to recenter you or a firm but kind reminder that you got this and YOU ARE DOING IT! They may tidy the room, give hugs, laugh and cry with you, reassure you and remind you of what is going on. She can help you weigh your options if your plans change. She will show you positions that may help and how to use the random size birth balls! She is there for you every moment!
Do I NEED a birth doula?
NO! You don't need or have to have a birth doula! You are amazing all on your own but you very well might feel more amazing with one! You can do it without a doula but she could be the icing on the cake or the glue that holds you together. Everyone is different. Every birth is different. Having a birth doula is a wonderful option for many people and can make this once in a lifetime experience even better!
About the photo!
This photo is of April, our owner and birth doula, supporting a family as they bring their third baby into the world! This client needed lots of counter pressure so April and the husband took turns doing them for her. It was a great team effort! The photo was taken in the hallway of Henry Ford West Bloomfield hospital by the amazingly talented Marla Must of Enchanted Photography by Marla Michelle Must. Check out her site here