Doulas! What are they? Why do I want one? Where can I find one?

Doulas! What are they? Why do I want one? Where can I find one?

A doula is a professional that provides support to a couple while in labor. Doulas are hired by you to be your advocate. It is important to have many people on your team when it comes to the well-being of you and your baby.

Studies have shown that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40%, and requests for an epidural by 60%. (Hodnett ED. Gates S Hofmeyr GJ. Sakala C. Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. CD003766, (2003).)

A doula will nurture, support, and offer expert guidance for families during their pregnancy, birth, and the early postpartum time. 

According to a 2013 Cochrane Database Systematic Review, “continuous support during labour has clinically meaningful benefits for women and infants and no known harm. All women should have support throughout labour and birth.”

What kind of support does a doula provide?

  • Physical Support.
  • Emotional Support.
  • Informational support.

Emotional Support. Childbirth is one of the most vulnerable things one ever does for both the mother and the father. As a laboring woman you can feel completely exposed and defenseless, at the mercy of your body and baby and those around you. You know you need help but you don’t know how people can help, or even what help you actually need.  Think about how beneficial it would be to have someone there telling you that, what you are experiencing is normal, or a good sign of getting close to the end, or just encouragement that you are doing a good job. Many people say, that’s why my husband is there, he can do all that. Which is very true but let’s think about the fathers for a second; a man goes into the hospital with his pregnant wife and unborn child. He watches as his wife goes through anguish to bring their baby into the world wanting and wishing to take upon himself everything she is feeling. He feels helpless, not knowing what he can do to ease her burden. He holds the role of protector but in this situation he is as vulnerable as possible as he watches everything he cares about in the world out of his control and in the hands of others. Doula’s are not only the emotional support for moms but dads too. And doula’s are exceptionally good at helping dads help moms, never taking over the role of companion but enhancing that raw bond between couples as they embark on the most amazing experience ever.

Physical Support. Whether you are planning an unmedicated birth or an ASAP epidural most women will experience the sensation of labor. Through counter-pressure, rebozo techniques, or tricks we have learned from the trade, all our clients think we are pure magic because we have skills and knowledge that will reduce a laboring mama’s discomfort by up to 30%. Sign. Me. Up.

Informational Support. Making educated decisions is, in my opinion, the number one best thing you can do for your entire experience of pregnancy, birth, and beyond. In fact I have found that a woman will have a positive birth experience, no matter what happens in her birth, including unforeseen circumstances and interventions IF she feels as though she had control in the decision making process. There are many, many, options throughout all of pregnancy and birth. It’s hard to have done all the research beforehand especially for first time moms who typically at their pre-natal appointments their care provider comes in for 10 minutes, makes sure baby is doing well then asks, “Any questions?” “Uuuuuuhhhhhh no?” inside your mind is screaming “what questions am I supposed to have? Is all of this normal? I have another living being growing inside my body! I don’t even know where to start with questions! Millions of other woman have given birth successfully I don’t want to be the first one to question the process.  And even if you have done a lot of research and made decisions as to how you want your birth to go, a lot of times you are faced with unanticipated situations and that is where a doula is extremely helpful especially in a hospital setting. Doulas are birth junkies, they read medical studies for fun, so as things arise they can offer informational support ie: in letting you know if there are other options for a procedure that is being offered, or even a translation of the medical jargon being spouted by the staff, etc. Doula’s will never make decisions for you, but they can help you have all the information you need to make an educated choice yourself. Having a positive birth experience is crucial, it affects how a woman views herself, her body, her self-esteem, which webs out and touches all aspects of her life.

Biggest reasons people tell us they can’t have a doula:

  1. Can’t afford it: There are many doulas that will do payment plans, or fresh out of training so their rates are lower, what money would you save with a doula? Epidural costs? Surgery costs? Pitocin costs? Peace of mind costs?
  2. Only want it to be me and my partner. And the slew of other people you don’t really know? Everyone else that attends your birth are there to help you have a baby, yes, but they have other responsibilities too and aren’t there constantly to support you while you have your baby. 
  3. Don’t want the doula to take over the roll of the partner. A doula enhances the role of a partner.  She is trained with very specific knowledge on how to support a laboring women.  When the partner needs guidance or a break, a doula is right there.   
  4. Midwife, doctors and nurses are awesome and will be there. This is awesome! The more people to support a women through labor, the better!

Where to find a doula:

  • Google doula and your town to see what might come up
  • if there are any birth/ parenting forums or Facebook groups you can join and ask for recommendations
  • Ask your care provider / hospital / clinic / friends for recommendation.

How to hire a doula:

  • Narrow down your search to 2-4 doulas that you like.
  • Contact each of them and set an initial interview. 
  • Make sure to have your partner there for the interviews so they can ask any questions they have. Or express concerns. Also the doula will be working with your husband to help you so it’s important they like and get along with the doula as much as you do.
  • Ask them lots of questions
  • Be really straightforward with your expectations and preferences.  (don't like to be touched,  phrases that bug you, smells you don't like, etc.) 

How to become a doula:

  • to become a doula we highly recommend you become certified. We were both certified through DONA International.
    • To certify you will need to attend a doula training (you will need to research if there are any in your area or surrounding areas and when). Usually it’s a 3-4 day workshop.
    • Read so many books from an approved reading list.
    • Receive additional training  with childbirth education classed, breastfeeding classes, etc.
    • Hands on Training, you have to attend so many hours and so many births before you can be certified. 
    • Depending on who you are certifying through you will need to write some essays and develop a resource list for your area as well.
  • You can market yourself with a website, go into clinics in your area and hand out business cards. And get on, DONA international’s list of doulas. etc.
  • Check to see if there are any doula groups in your area, and attend meetups and get togethers. The more involved you get with other doulas the better your business is.

Watch the LIVE where we talk all about doulas!

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