Did you know that mothers-to-be have four common desires in addition to and intertwined with having a healthy baby? And did you know that a doula can help you achieve them?
What are they?, you wonder.
Let’s dig in.
1. To not go it alone.
A new or rare experience like having a baby can bring uncertainty and apprehension, and it’s not something you want to do by yourself. Fortunately, you have a partner, family, friends, doctors/midwives, and nurses who are an invaluable and irreplaceable source of support.
But there is no substitute for the knowledge, listening ear, and continuous labor care of a doula. (Even research suggests as much!) A doula is there for you (and your partner) in a uniquely intimate way. She knows you—what soothes you, what your fears are, how you envision your baby’s entrance. And she knows birth. She can help navigate labor interventions or hospital protocols or just what is “normal” in a way that other support people or the medical staff are unlikely to.
She is your guide, teammate, cheerleader, database. She doesn’t pass judgement on your choices or need to rush through your appointments and isn’t concerned about whether or not you poop while pushing. She just wants your family to be healthy and happy—whatever that looks like for you.
2. To be prepared.
You’ve never done this before. Or maybe you have, but still, you don’t feel like an expert. There are things you’d like to know and things you don’t even know you’d like to know, whether it be questions to ask your care provider during pregnancy, comfort measures for labor, or what that eye goop is.
One of a doula’s responsibilities is to help you get ready for labor and new parenthood. Just what this preparation entails varies from one doula to the next, as each has a distinctive practice style.
Regardless, you can expect information on topics ranging from relaxation techniques to what will happen at the hospital to newborn procedures. You may also discuss postpartum recovery, breastfeeding, infant sleep, and the transition to parenthood. Even if your doula doesn’t cover a particular topic she will likely provide you with resources you can use to explore your options and better prepare yourself.
3. To be confident.
Because having a baby isn’t something you do every day you may be nervous or downright scared. Your excitement over meeting this new being is tempered by worries about labor or breastfeeding or adjusting to life with a baby.
A doula’s physical and emotional presence, along with the preparation process, facilitates self-assuredness. As you receive a wealth of information, release major worries, and recognize that your doula is there for you, your confidence in your ability to give birth and care for a baby deepens.
4. To be satisfied with your experience.
Whether for intrinsic reasons or to be better prepared to parent, you want your baby’s birth to be a good experience, a day you’ll remember fondly. And while you know labor is unpredictable and can go off course despite best laid plans, you might not know that positive experiences can happen under a variety of circumstances, even those that are not part of the script.
A doula’s presence, the preparation she assists you with, and the confidence she helps you develop lend themselves to contentment with your birth experience—when things go just as expected and even when they don’t.
No matter your personality, pregnancy number, or intended method of birthing, there is a doula for you. Talk to a few and find one who suits your style and whom you trust to have your back.
Your baby’s birth is a day without equal, and you don’t get a do-over.
Ashley Kim has been paid to mountain bike, run a chainsaw, and put needles in veins. But serving new parents is by far her favorite work. She is a Certified Doula and Lactation Educator Counselor and can be found at www.cloudninechildbirth.com.