In the months preceding labor, a doula can be a source of information and a calming, reassuring presence throughout. Questions will accumulate and a doula will be on standby to answer them. If a mother and her partner seek support of another kind, such as acupuncture or bodywork, prenatal yoga classes or reflexologists, her doula can supply her with contacts. Her doula will sit with her and her partner for prenatal sessions to learn what is most important to them in this process. She will offer suggestions as to how to decrease anxiety that will make space for more enjoyment and awareness. Often it is information that helps a couple release fear.
A doula will educate a mother and her partner about the anatomy and physiology of childbirth, what labor might look like and feel like, what physical signs and symptoms might be present during labor and what interventions are most common in a hospital setting. She will attempt to demystify childbirth and paint a picture as to how labor might take its course-- advising her client all the while that labor is filled with uncertainty and that there is no way to chart this unknown territory until she is in it. And even then it can change on a moments notice. Allowing for flexibility and acceptance is the name of this beautiful game.
A doula will help a couple explore many ways to invite flexibility and permission into this process. If a partner is involved, that person will play an invaluable role in this team by being the primary support person. A doula will never overstep this important boundary, unless she is asked to. In most cases, the birth is about the couple- both individuals- and their union. The doula's goal is to bring them closer together in this intimate process. If desired, the doula will always be there to provide education and suggestions as to how the partner can support the mother. The partner may have no idea how to be useful; he/she may fear being useless or in her way. A doula will help the partner build confidence and feel empowered in this role. A doula is the partners doula too. She is there to support him or her emotionally as well.
When labor begins, a doula will be present from the first contraction to the last. She will be by the mother’s side for the entire duration of labor, until after the birth of her baby. During labor, the mother may wish to be nurtured, mothered or protected. She may wish to be motivated, energized or buoyed. She may like to be distracted, guided or coached. She may enjoy relaxation methods such as massage, counter- pressure and acupressure. She may need help with breathing methods or position changes. She may find relief in guided visualizations or hypnobirthing techniques. She may desire support in the form of total silence: just a supportive, encouraging presence in the back of the room. She may also desire a lot of hands-on help to see her through each and every contraction. If that is the case, her partner and doula will both climb every contraction with her, as if it is a mountain, carrying her backpack all the while. And at the bottom of each mountain, they will be sure to rub her feet and tell how wonderfully strong she is. Because every woman in labor is immensely strong.
If labor slows, she may request ways to encourage it to return. If labor takes an unexpected turn, the couple may need thorough explanation and assistance with decoding medical jargon. The couple may ask the doula to be a gentle advocate for their wishes. A doula can help the couple navigate, troubleshoot and be a backboard to bounce ideas off. But she will never make decisions for the couple nor will she ever try to influence them. She will always support whatever decision, small or large, that the couple decides to make. She will care for you and give you her all without reservation, whatever the scenario: un-medicated natural labor or the use of an epidural, assisted delivery with forceps or vacuum, or a cesarean section. A doula never judges; she is on this journey with you, encouraging you all the way.
After the delivery, the baby will likely try to find the breast on his or her own. Most of the time, s/he is successful since s/he knows exactly what to do. However, if there is need for assistance, the doula will help encourage breastfeeding with gentle efforts and techniques. She may explain different positions for holding the baby, how to achieve a good latch, how to manually express. She will also offer ways the father can be involved in breastfeeding. She will educate the parents about the normalcy of this process, and that it is a skill that needs to be learned by both the mother as well as the baby. A learning curve is normal and expected. Simply put: the less anxiety, the better the likelihood of a baby feeling comfortable and content at the breast. A doula will help you decrease this anxiety through education.
These are only some of the ways a doula can support your pregnancy and delivery of your baby. A doula will adapt to whatever your needs may be. Her only goal is to increase your confidence in your body's wisdom. Early childhood starts at birth. A positive birth experience vitally improves parent and infant bonding by both empowering the parents and laying the foundation for a healthy family. We are committed to helping you discover your strength in this process and to experience the birth you've envisioned.