I often encounter the question "what does a doula do?" when someone finds out that I'm a doula. They usually ask how a doula is different than a midwife (in short, the midwife is responsible for the medical aspect of the birth process for you and your baby, whereas a doula is a labor coach, akin to a personal trainer for birth).
It can be difficult to sum up all that encompasses being a doula, especially since that role can look different depending on your birth experience(ex. cesarean birth and homebirth have dissimlar logistics, and while the emotional and physical support are still necessary, they will most likely look different), so if you want a better idea of what I "do" as a doula, and what I "don't" do, read on!
As your doula I “do”:
-Provide un-biased physical and emotional support throughout pregnancy, labor, and birth. I’m available by phone, text, or email before your birth for support and to address your questions and concerns. Once you are in active labor I am present where you are laboring to provide continuous support until a few hours after baby is born.
-Attend births at home, in hospitals, birth centers, cesareans, natural births, water births, with or without epidurals. However you choose to birth your baby, I will support you every step of the way.
-Assist you in preparing for the birth you want, as well as the postpartum period. We will discuss your concerns and questions about labor and delivery, as well as your plans for feeding your baby after he/she is born.
-Provide local resources regarding pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
-Suggest position changes during labor when necessary, hold a washcloth or hand, equip your spouse or partner with tools to support you in labor, and work alongside each member of your birth team harmoniously.
-Encourage you to speak up if I see that your wishes for your birth plan are at risk of being disrupted.
As your doula I "don’t" :
-Tell you what to do. Your birth is about you, and I leave my own beliefs at the door. This is your big event!
-Speak on your behalf to your provider or those attending your birth. I work with you before your birth so that you have the information you need to make decisions for your birth, and I help remind you of it if necessary.
-Give medical advice or suggestions outside of my scope of practice. I don’t check blood pressure, dilation, heart rates, etc. I leave that in the hands of your medical provider, so that I can focus on supporting you and your partner through the process.
-Replace your partner. I work with your partner to create a team that can bring you enhanced support. I encourage them to support you at whatever level feels best. If that means they want to do most of the physical comfort, great! If not, that works too. I’ll be there to share tools and information if they would like some direction, and when they need a break to eat or rest, I’ll be there ready to step in!