Is having a doula important? Imagine you are planning to compete in an Olympic sport. Would you prepare, train, practice, compete and execute the sporting event all on your own? Or would you have a coach, trainer, nutritionist, medical staff and your family nearby to guide, encourage and take care of you as needed? Of course you would!
This analogy gives an idea of what a doula is and why she has an important role.
Your doula wears many hats, but her overall purpose is to support you in having a smooth and positive birth experience. Your doula is a coach, guide, educator, friend, supporter and confidante. She will be there for you, no matter what, in this extremely vulnerable and important time in your life. Your doctor, midwife and nurses will provide medical care to ensure the safe arrival of your baby. But who is there specifically looking after your physical and emotional needs and state of mind? That would be your doula!
During your pregnancy she can answer your questions, and help direct you to the best place to find more information on any topic. She is knowledgeable on all things related to pregnancy, labor and birth. When a medical decision must be made always consult your care provider. If you are struggling to figure out what the best choice is for you, your doula will listen and be a resource for you. She will ask just the right questions to help you come to terms with any decision you are making. During labor and delivery she will have your back in every way you can imagine. From massage and squeezing your hips, to holding your drink for you while you take a quick sip of water and then get right back into breathing and pushing your baby out. She will wipe your brow, hold your hand and remind you how strong and amazing you are and that you are capable of doing exactly what it takes to have this baby! Having this kind of support during a potentially stressful event like labor and birth really makes a huge difference in the experience.
If things don’t go exactly as planned your doula will help you transition.
She will understand your disappointment, but will also help you find the strength to move forward despite it all and meet your beautiful baby.
A doula can also be an incredible support person if you do not have a partner, when your partner cannot be in attendance, or if you choose not to have any other family in the labor room. It’s comforting to have a familiar face there for you providing true support and compassion.
In the event of a cesarean, a doula can be a lifesaver. Sometimes doulas are permitted to support their clients in the operating room keeping them calm throughout the operation. Other times they are there with you right up until you head into the operating room answering every last question, and they are there when you are in recovery helping you bond and breastfeed your baby. A mother who undergoes a cesarean usually needs even more support in the immediate postpartum period and a doula is that comforting and helpful presence.