If I had a dollar for every time I got this question, I’d be one rich lady. “What is a doula?” “Doulas are for people who deliver at home with no medicine, right?” “Aren’t doulas only helpful when the partner isn’t around to help?”
Let’s begin by cracking open the dictionary. The origin of the Greek word “Doula” translates directly as “women servant,” meaning one who cares for individuals before, during, and after labor and childbirth. A doula is not a medical professional and therefore does not replace a midwife or obstetrician. These people are medically trained to assist in the delivery process, whereas a doula provides physical, emotional, and educational support to expectant mothers and their families.
This can look different for each person or family contemplating hiring a doula. Some women decide to deliver in a hospital setting; some prefer to have a home-like birth center experience; and some feel most comfortable delivering in the space they call home. Most doulas can assist birthing women in any place they decide to bring their baby earthside, with or without pain medication.
A doula’s most important goal is to make your vision of your birth experience a reality. Your doula will serve you, without judgement, based on your wishes for the birth experience. Some people have a lot of fear surrounding birth, especially if it is their first time or have endured traumatic birth experiences in the past. This applies to both mom and partner! Some partners also worry that hiring a doula will simply replace their role in the birthing process. In reality, a doula’s role is to support, not replace. A doula helps prepare partners to support mom more effectively, because a doula can never replace the intimate role of a partner in delivery. Experience the comfort of having a doula by your side with whom you have established a relationship—someone you can rely on.
The biggest gift I can give as a doula is confidence. This comes through educating and preparing for each birth experience. Not all doulas are childbirth educators, so taking a childbirth education course will provide that in-depth knowledge expectant parents need. Your doula will be there as a kind of pocket guide to remind you of everything you’ve learned when hormones are raging and all of that knowledge goes out the window. This includes techniques for comfort, laboring position changes, and, most importantly, normalizing everything you are going through. Doulas also assist in the immediate postpartum with items like skin-to-skin bonding, breastfeeding, preparing for bringing your new bundle of joy home, and referring you to local resources that can better assist you with areas outside of a doula’s expertise.
At the end of the day, each family will prepare for a new child in their own way, but a doula can help you navigate the first steps. A doula will ease this major transition by ensuring that you are well-prepared for a safe and positive birth experience. Now if you’re looking for a little extra support after delivery, please be sure to research postpartum doula services for an extension of care. Trust me…SO worth it!