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What is it like to have a Doula?

You may be wondering what birth with a doula looks like; or maybe you have said “What does a Doula do?” Hopefully this blog will answer that question for you!

All doulas work differently, and incorporate many different styles into their work, (which is great!) but pretty much everyone works with the three pillars of support:

•emotional support

•physical support

•informational/educational support

Once you’ve hired your doula, she will schedule a few prenatal meetings with you. During these meetings you will spend time getting to know each other and will cover things like your health and pregnancy history, desires, fears, birth plan, questions and resources, relaxation, positioning, preparation for working with your birth location and care provider, etc. She is an extra set of hands, able to massage, apply counter pressure, grab chapstick, refill water. She speaks encouraging words, and reminds you of your desires, and of your ability. She encourages your partner to step in and provide the support that only they can - and she gives them a break to grab a sandwich or take a quick nap. She loves birth. She knows the importance of the birth process, and is loyal to you and your process, and no one else. Really, a doula is like a birth cheerleader - she has been there for this birth season for you, helping you prepare and practice along the way. When the Birth Day comes, she is there with you, cheering you on and reminding you that you can do it, you are strong, you have prepared - she encourages you to the finish line (and supports your birth partner along the way too).

Studies have been done on the effect of continuous labor support and the outcomes. We know that having a doula at your birth statistically increases the positive outcomes and a Cochrane review found that women who had continuous labor support were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal deliveries, and shorter labors. They were also less likely to use pain medication, need instrumental assistance in delivery, have birth end in cesarean, and less likely to have negative feelings about their birth experience.1

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I was trained in San Diego through a company called toLabor. This is what they have to say about having [doula] support at your birth: "toLabor believes that all people benefit from support and resources that will help them be aware of, and educated about, the options and choices that are available so that they may make informed decisions concerning their birth experience. We embrace the evidence that a person who actively participates in their birth will have a healthier birth for their baby, their-self and their family; physically and emotionally. We believe that in every birth, there is room for compassion and respect for the process. We believe this a civil right, a human right. We believe in creating and fostering a community of change.”2

Doula support for each client looks different, though. Some need and want more direct support and regular conversation. They need encouragement and input and resources often. Others kind of touch in with their doula less regularly, but know that the doula is there if a question comes up, or a need for a resource. There is really no wrong way to use your doula, as long as you remember that they are a resource and guide, not the person coming in to save your birth or make decisions for you.

Here are some things previous clients have had to say about their experiences with me as their doula (taken from my testimonials page):

"She didn't judge on any of the decisions we made, even when I decided to get an epidural. She was a great support system to my husband as well. It meant a lot to him to have her there if he had to leave the room for something.”

"We met several times to talk about my ideal birth experience and how she would fit into that experience...During the birth she was invaluable. She helped me when I didn't know what I wanted or needed...I remember just as my baby was coming I was starting to lose it. Christina got down at my level and locked eyes with me. The second that took place I was able to focus on her, relax my body, and literally the next contraction my baby girl was born”

"Christina helped me reach my goal of an unmedicated birth in the hospital. She was great at giving me guidance during the laboring.”

I love this quote by Dr. John H Kennell: "If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it."

I hope this blog was helpful, and gave you a better understanding of what it looks like to hire a doula!

(1) Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub5.

(2) toLabor. (n.d.). Philosophy and intention. Retrieved from

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