All About Birth Doulas
This is part one of a two-part series all about doulas. Here we include an FAQ on everything from what a birth doula does to what to look for when you are interviewing a doula and more!
Q: Who is a Birth Doula & What does a Birth Doula do?
A: Often, we hear families who are unfamiliar with doula care lump us into other categories, like midwives or nurses. This doesn’t hurt our feelings, as both professions are a wonderful support to mothers, birthing people, and families! But, it is important to know what a doula really is to benefit from our specialized love and care. Let’s dig into who your birth doula is and what they do!
A doula is…
- a non medical support person that supports moms (and their partners) through information, resources, education, emotional, and hands on physical support during labor (by helping to manage contractions)
- someone who will help you make educated decisions (not fear based) during sometimes stressful moments; allowing you the least amount of regret
- someone who will help guide you to have open and clear communication with your provider and/or nurses, bridging the gap
- someone who provides different support from an obgyn/midwife and nurse, and is
- someone just for the birthing person/partner, no hidden agendas other than making sure they have all the knowledge, facts and unbiased support to make the best decisions for their family
Did you note that we are not midwives? Doulas often work alongside midwives, your OBGYN, or nurse, but we don’t fall into any of these categories. We get to focus solely on you – our client – and offer you the unconditional love and support you need in one of the biggest transitional moments of your life!
Q: Are Birth Doulas only for home birth families?
A: Nope! Birth Doulas are for mothers and families choosing to bring their babe earthside in any place and space from hospital and birth center to your home. We meet you where you are most comfortable and honor you and yours right there.
Q: I have a partner and my mom attending my birth. Do I really need a Birth Doula there?
A: We love this question so much… we made a list on how radically different we are from your loved ones!
- We help keep you CALM (this is a big one)
- We “triage” you in early labor, reminding you to do the things that will allow you rest, nourishment and how to protect your space so that labor gets off the ground
- We remind you of what is normal; and, if you need to take a side road we help to keep you positive and focused
- We labor with you at home in active labor, and help you decide when the best time is to go to your birth place or call over your midwife and birth team
- We help to problem solve when labor patterns are funky or when you need to navigate an unexpected labor change/intervention
- Doulas are a COMFORT MEASURE. We help you manage your contractions and communicate to you and your partner what stage of labor you are in
- Doulas are encouraging. We help with guided affirmations, massage/counter pressure, rebozo, essential oils, and much more
- We help you with positions for comfort while maximizing progression; and we keep you motivated to continue changing positions
- We remind you to eat and stay hydrated; and when to go to the bathroom or have a position change. We give your partner a break; hold your throw up bowl; help you put a pad on your underwear; fan you; or put a cold cloth on your temple or back
- A doula allows your partner to feel comfortable to take a break to catch their breath, eat, go to the bathroom, check in on siblings and rest, and
- We treat you with the utmost respect, reminding you of the badass queen you are – and love on you like a sister
(If you think we’re pretty magical, it’s true.)
Q: My partner doesn’t want to be replaced. Is this possible?
A: If we haven’t made it clear, our goal is to make sure you and your partner are supported. In birth, partners are “fully on” after baby comes and our heart is to make that transition as smooth as possible.
- A doula can not and does not want to replace your partner
- We compliment the partners role, acting as your very best team
- We provide a woman’s touch, experience and empathy – something your partner might not be able to provide as they, too, walk through this birth
- We create a safe space so that the partner can love on the mom and be as hands on (or hands off) as their comfort level, and –
- We provide an unbiased support so that if partner needs to rest, take a break, etc. mom is not left alone
Note: if you don’t have a partner, we can and will be your main support! And, we consider it to be the highest honor.
Q: Are Birth Doulas trained or certified?
A: Birth doulas are certified by local and global agencies and/or are trained in ancient wisdom by those who know it best including indigineous groups and Eastern teachers. We believe that doulas should always carry doula insurance, too. This expresses a certain level of professional accountability to our clients.
Q: Are there any statistics that show Birth Doulas as a benefit to birthing people?
A: Research shows that a birth doula reduces the maternal risk factor for perinatal depression and anxiety. Additionally, there is a significant decrease in the use of interventions like pain medications and pitocin, decrease in cesarean births, NICU trips for newborns, birth trauma, shorter labors, and increased satisfaction in birth experience. You can find out more here and here.
Q: When should I look into hiring a doula?
A: As soon as you think you may want doula support, start looking! Doulas are limited on the amount of clients they can take a month; and, repeat clients know to reach out as soon as possible to reserve their spot. You can expect experienced doulas fill up quickly.
We’ll end here with this: your birth matters. It matters for you, your loved ones, your baby (or babies!) and for all generations to come. If you have questions that are not answered in this blog post, please reach out. We are happy to continue this conversation so that you and yours experience your very best birth with the very best birth doula for you!
Hi! I’m Alyssa Leon. I lead Cherry Blossom Doula Services, LLC – an inclusive birth + postpartum doula team in Arizona; and mentor doulas in Arizona and beyond.