Frequently asked questions
What is a birth and postpartum doula?
A birth and postpartum doula is a trained professional that gives a birthing person physical, emotional and informational support before, during and after childbirth. They are there to advocate for the birthing persons needs and enhance their clients experience.
What do doulas do?
Wow, that's hard to say! There are many different types of doulas that offer support for all types of life events including abortion, puberty, infertility, miscarriage, death and more. Birth and postpartum doulas mainly focus on the maternal health care. They provide ongoing health care before, during, and after your birthing process. They are your advocates, your source of information, your emotional and physical support through this incredible process. You can consider them a birth companion, a birth coach, a post-birth supporter. A doula has formal training in labor support and therefore can help the birthing person manage pain, understand procedures and stay calm. It can be challenging during labor to navigate hospital protocol and a doula can make sure their clients understand what is happening so they can give informed consent and have control of their own bodies.
There is a ton of focus and attention leading up to having a baby and very little support for the mother after birth. A postpartum doula makes sure their client is taken care of after birth and in their new role as a mother. This can range from nutritional health, emotional well being, house help and breastfeeding. A doula’s main goal after birth is to provide the mother with the care and support that they need.
What a doula does NOT do.
A doula does not give any medical advice or conduct or assist in any medical exams or procedures. They do not speak on behalf of their clients or make decisions for them. They do not give a medical diagnosis.
Why should I get a doula if they don't preform medical procedures or offer a medical diagnosis?
Unfortunately, our hospital systems don't always offer the many services that a doula provides and hospitals are where most birthing people decide to have their babies. Most doctors and midwives will not be with you for your entire labor, even if you decide to have a home birth. That kind of support can feel essential when a person is in labor and feeling vulnerable.
Oxytocin is an important hormone in labor that helps a birthing person have contractions and keeps the labor progressing. It’s the same hormone that is released when you hug, orgasm, and breastfeed. The fight-or-flight hormones are called epinephrine and norepinephrine and they are produced when you are stressed, scared or anxious. These hormones stop the oxytocin hormone, which can drastically slow down labor or stop it all together. Let’s be honest, a hospital on a day when you’re feeling average can be stressful so when you introduce that setting to someone who might be feeling the vulnerability of birth, it can intensify. Doula’s know this and they are trained to make the hospital feel like a safe and comfortable place where a person can feel empowered in their birth.
Studies have shown that those who have received continuous support not only were more likely to have spontaneous births, but also less likely to have any pain medication, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, and Cesareans. This helps shortens the length of labor and gives the baby a far less of a chance to having low Apgar scores at birth. There’s even been studies to show that doula support in labor helps lower postpartum depression in mothers.
Why do I need a doula if I have my partner or family with me?
The support of a family member or partner during birth is immensely helpful. They can be a source of comfort during this new experience. A doula only enhances that and creates safety around that special relationship. It can often times be scary or hard to see our loved ones in pain. A professional doula knows this and is a source of reassurance. Sometimes birth can be a long process and having a doula to step in so a family member can eat or take a moment to rest can allow the birthing person to have the optimal support that they need.
The hospital can also be a foreign place for most people and a professional doula knows procedures and protocol. They can be a useful guide in a situation that is unfamiliar.