Updated: May 17, 2022
Birth Doulas are trained professionals that walk with women during pregnancy and labor. They provide physical, emotional, and informational support to the woman and her partner throughout the process while teaching them to work as a team. Typically when you hire a doula you will meet with her a handful of times during your pregnancy, the main hiring point being the support she will provide during your labor. Some birth doulas will provide a visit or two postpartum as well.
Birth Doulas are trained to provide physical support in a few different ways and and each will come with their own set of tools and methods for labor. Some examples of ways they can support women in labor is through counter pressure, hip squeezes, and different methods using a Rebozo. Some may briefly review these methods during visits throughout the pregnancy to teach your partner how to provide this support as well.
Emotional support is something most women could use more of during pregnancy. The shifts in hormones, the changes coming with the baby, and the added stress of the season are all good reasons to build a good emotional support team. On top of providing emotional support during difficult times doulas also are another person on your team to celebrate the milestones throughout pregnancy. The bottom line is that doulas are excellent listeners and sometimes you need someone to lend an ear.
Doulas are not trained to provide healthcare or medical advice, though they are able to provide ample information about milestones throughout pregnancy and labor as well as information regarding tests, procedures, and interventions. As your midwife I will do my best to present the risks and benefits of each test, procedure and intervention, but sometimes hearing it from a second person is helpful. A doula that you hire will be able to provide information from a different perspective.
In a perfect world, as your midwife I would be able to do all of these things throughout your care. The reality is that as your care provider, my first job is to keep you and your baby safe. During your labor in particular I will do my best to be the support that you need. Though I would prefer to wear all the hats, having someone on the team who's entire focus is to support you and your partner will only benefit you. Doulas are excellent resources and there will absolutely be room for a doula at any birth I attend as a midwife. I have worked closely with one excellent doula in particular on multiple occasions. Her name is Gretchen and she is listed on my resources page if you are ever interested in consulting with a doula.