"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it"~Dr. John Kennell
So what exactly IS a doula?! A birth doula is a professional labor support companion. Usually an expectant Mama calls (or emails) me to set up an initial visit. We meet, its a good fit, and if my schedule is open, the family hires me. Each family I work with gets private childbirth education from me & let me just say, IT IS AN EXTREMELY COMPREHENSIVE CURRICULUM! This is one of my favorite aspects of my role as a doula~sharing my knowledge with Mama & Papa. There really is so much to learn about the birth process!
A huge piece to my puzzle of professional labor support companion is honoring the subjective experience of birth. In our meetings prior to the baby's birth, the family conveys their wishes for how they'd like it all to go down. Reminding them to remain open and flexible to switching to plan B, C or D is often very well-received. We all know there is no way to predict how (natural) birth will unfold, however, being prepared and aware of different options makes all the difference.
Once Mama is in labor, they call me and we decide when they want me to come on the scene. The way I roll, when working with families, is highly intuitive & I wouldn't have it any other way! I have a couple favored tools in my birth companion bag but since each birth is so unique, what I do is different with everyone. To give you an idea of what this might look like, I could be massaging Mama's back, applying counter pressure to the sacrum or lower back (and showing Dad how to help his wifey in these ways), oohing and aahing with her, reminding her to relax any and all areas of her body, encouraging her to flow with her body and move in ways only she can move, offering sips of water after each uterine surge, breathing deep to remind her of that vital component, making sure a clothe is freezing cold for her forehead or back of neck, warming a rice sock for her low back or lower abdomen, lots of words of affirmation, lots of reassurance & MORE...basically just being there is a huge relief for the families I work with. Feeling the energy of the situation, tuning into her unconscious, subtle cues, being aware of the different smells (yes, we are animals! a lot if revealed in the smell of labor and birth!) & the like are all factored into my role as a birth doula and in turn, how I offer to support. If interventions are proposed, usually the dad asks the care provider many questions then requests we have time alone to discuss and weigh pros & cons. I offer my expertise (if prompted) and they make a decision that is best for them. I do not advocate one way or another.
After the baby is born, and we are all completely elated (thank you oxytocin!), I typically stay by Mama's side until any repairs have been made, making sure baby gets to breast (if that is part of their desire), offering drinks, ordering food, covering Mom up (sometimes the shakes come due to hormonal shifts) & being available for anything else that is asked of me. Once things have settled, I respect the space and give Mama, Papa & baby time alone together...giving big hugs and any revelant congratulatory words of praise.
In the week immediately following the birth, I make an in home visit to the Fam. The purpose of this visit is to reflect on the entire birth experience, to address any questions or concerns that may have come up and for me to see the new family (and hold sweet angel baby)!! Crediting the level of intimacy (and again, the oxytocin!), I can honestly say I LOVE every family I work with! There is a special bond that is created between family and doula.
Of course, as baby grows we stay in touch & if I am fortunate enough, they ask me back for their subsequent births!
What a "job", huh?! I feel sooooo blessed to KNOW in my heart that this is my path. And it is great preparation for my future Certified Nurse Midwife career.
If you are interested in booking my Intuitive Birth Doula services please call (585) 820-6085 or email me! If you have had my doula services, please comment below :)
Until next time...