What exactly IS a doula anyway?
The short answer:
A doula is person(often a woman), who provides physical, emotional and informational support to a birthing person, and the birthing person’s support team(partners, spouses, family and friends) before, during and after birth, up to 12 weeks postpartum.
I am not a medical professional. I perform no clinical tasks and make no medical recommendations or decisions.
The not-so-short answer:
As a birth doula, I am trained and experienced in non-medical comfort measures, safe and effective positions during labor, support for vaginal and caesarean births(unplanned or elective), supporting a birthing person who has chosen medical pain management, supporting a birthing person who has chosen to have as few interventions as possible, initiation of breastfeeding…and so much more! I am here to help you feel confident and empowered in YOUR choices, while helping you prepare for and process your birth experience and integrate it into your parenting journey.
As a postpartum doula, I am trained and experienced in normal breastfeeding initiation and support, assessing and referring for more difficult breastfeeding issues, safe formula feeding, normal newborn behavior, comfort measures for the mother’s healing time, reassurance about normal postpartum thoughts and feelings, helping siblings with the family’s transition, helping partners and support people to know how to be most effective, direct partner support and quite a lot more!
Can you make sure my care provider respects my wishes during my birth?
No, I cannot. That’s outside of the scope of my practice. It is, however, in my scope of practice to remind you of your preferences in the moment and help you make an informed choice by giving you evidence based information and best practice guidelines. I will always refer you back to your care provider for medical decisions.
There are several things I think are important here:
- Pick a provider(doctor? midwife?) and a setting(home? birth center? hospital?) that suit your comfort level and personality. Find someone you trust, and a place that makes you feel safe and supported. I cannot tell you who to trust, but I can help you suss out your style.
- Educate yourself thoroughly about normal birth and possible interventions. I suggest a childbirth education class with no less than 15 hours of instruction. For partners, I recommend the book The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin.
- Communicate with your partner(if applicable), provider and/or other support people about what you hope for from your birth experience.
- Find a doula that will process these things in advance with you and will help you map out your birth preferences and your reasons for those preferences. Make sure your doula is someone who completely respects your agency and who practices radical nonjudgement. Whether I am your doula, or you find someone who is a better fit, it is important to know that a doula’s own comfort or discomfort with certain birth practices is completely irrelevant to what YOU and your family need or want.
Have you had any training?
I have attended several workshops and trainings since beginning my work as a doula, including:
DONA Birth Doula Training- Feb 2016
DONA Postpartum Doula Training- Mar 2016
Breastfeeding Support for Doulas, with Jessica Altemara IBCLC- April 2016
Red Cross Adult/Infant/Child CPR- Current
AAP Neonatal Resuscitation Provider- Current
DONA Labor TENS Training- June 2017
Holding Space for Pregnancy and Infant Loss, with Amy Glenn- Feb 2018
Will you attend my homebirth?
I will attend a birth in a home, hospital or birth center that is also attended by a licensed birth professional(doctor or certified nurse midwife).
Becoming a parent is a bold leap into the unknown. It’s amazing and can also be terrifying. We can’t imagine life before we met our children, but some days we don’t know what we were thinking when we decided to become parents! Everyone deserves a safe space to process those challenging feelings without judgement. We grow and blossom as parents and people when we are heard, seen, supported and validated.
On a personal note, being a doula is an outward expression of my most deeply held values. Making the choice to open my own business and boldly leap was pretty scary. This beautiful quote wove its way into my brain and inspired me to move forward:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin