What to Expect from Your Doula

By Natasha Trapp, November 14, 2018

You know how some women have traumatic experiences during birth? Some have an idea of what birth will be like, but things can change quickly, and the parents end up feeling frustrated, fearful, and in pain. Well, a birth doula can help make sure the whole process is empowering and joyful.

I feel that birth is such an important event in a life of a woman.  This experience can affect the woman for the rest of her life, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  A traumatic experience may hinder bonding between the mother and the new baby, while an empowering experience might give the mother that extra oomph to handle the difficult phase of taking care of newborn while being sleep-deprived and exhausted.  I want to help mothers have a positive birth experience, and a strong foundation to their life as a family.

What exactly is a Doula?

Doulas are trained labor companions that provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support.

There are a lot of benefits of having a doula at one’s birth. They include decreased C-sections, decreased use of medications for pain relief (like epidurals), decreased use of extra interventions (like Pitocin), and shorter labor. Having a doula increases satisfaction with the birth experience. There are really no risks associated with doulas.

Doulas have a lot of comfort tools in their bags (and also their hearts and hands) that can help the birthing person to have a more positive experience. These include soothing touch, massage, hot or cold packs, rebozo techniques, suggestions for positions, moral support, reassurance, and verbal affirmations. 

Doulas can explain what’s going on during labor and birth, and provide reassurance. If interventions are suggested, doulas can give the mother more information, or encourage her to ask the right questions to make informed decisions. Doulas don't make any decisions for their clients. They also don’t project their own values or goals onto their clients.

Doulas are different from nurses (and midwives and OBs) in that they don't perform any clinical tasks (no checking blood pressure, no checking cervix, no checking fetal heart rate, and no catching babies). Nurses and midwives are usually extremely busy. Even if they wanted to provide emotional support, or had skills for physical comfort measures, they usually don’t have the time. Also, medical staff usually has shifts. Once their shift is over, they leave, and you get a new person taking care of you. Doula, on the other hand, stays with you through your entire birth (with occasional exceptions), so you always have the comfort of a trusted person in your corner.

Doula works for the birthing person, not her care provider or her hospital. The doula has the mother’s needs as her sole priority.  

Doula doesn’t replace the partner. Doula knows pregnancy, labor and birth, and the partner knows the mother – together, they make a great team. If the partner wants to be more emotionally involved, the doula can take care of physical comfort measures. If the partner wants to be hands on, the doula can show him her techniques (some of them require quite a bit of muscle, so they are perfect for partners). However, sometimes, partner feels overwhelmed by the birthing experience, and by seeing their loved one in pain. Doulas provide support to the partner, too, from making sure the partner has something to eat, to just checking in to see how he is doing and validating his feelings. If the dad feels overwhelmed and wants to chill in a chair or go for a walk, he can do that, knowing that his loved one is in good hands with her doula. He doesn’t have to be solely responsible for the mother’s emotional and physical well-being.

Doulas usually meet with expectant mothers (or couples) prenatally, to get to know each other, and to learn about their preferences. Doulas stay in touch and provide informational and emotional support leading up to birth. Doulas are usually on call from week 37 or 38, up until the baby is born. Once the mother is in labor, she calls the doula, and the doula gives suggestions over the phone. Doula joins the laboring mother once the mother invites her to come. During labor, doula provides comfort measures, suggests different positions, and provides emotional and informational support. She stays with the family for an hour or so after the birth, and can help with initial breastfeeding, if desired. Doula meets with the family once more for a postpartum visit, where she helps the mother process her birth, answers any questions, and helps with breastfeeding (if desired). Doula can also give references to local resources as needed.

If you are expecting, contact me to schedule a free consultation!

Natasha Trapp
 (508) 556-0703