Pregnancy and labor can be a scary and overwhelming time for most moms especially if you are a first-time mom! Our body goes through various changes and we don’t know what to expect when it comes to delivery.
Of course, throughout pregnancy, you will be in constant touch with your OB/GYN to make sure that everything is alright and that your little one is still kicking and happy. You may or may not have a birth plan, but if you are someone who would like some extra support throughout your pregnancy, delivery, or even postpartum, you might want to hire a doula. Doulas are great especially if you want the least medical intervention as possible, like inducement or epidurals.
What is a Doula?
A doula is a person who is trained to provide continuous support and encouragement during pregnancy, labor, or even after the birth of your baby. He or she will not replace your OB/GYN or midwife because most doulas do not have any medical or clinical training.
However, doulas often have vast knowledge about pain management techniques. These include non-medical techniques like aromatherapy, music, massage, and reflexology. The DONA International says that a doula is “a professional support person trained in the needs of the family during pregnancy and childbirth.”
Think of a doula more like a personal advisor and a friend throughout your pregnancy and delivery. During your pregnancy, if you hire a pregnancy doula, he or she will talk to you about the entire process of delivery beforehand and make your journey more comfortable for you. Pregnancy doulas can even help you draw up your birth plan.
What Does a Doula do at Birth?
A birth doula will help you to take control of your labor and delivery process by empowering you and making you feel more calm and comfortable. Though your doula will not deliver your baby, if you want they will be present with you at your time of delivery.
The benefits of having a doula at birth are:
- Doulas have plenty of experience and can help you with breathing exercises, and different relaxation techniques
- During labor and delivery, they can offer advice on different labor positions to ease the pain. You might want to change your position so that you are comfortable or help progress your labor
- While you are in labor they can also help to translate medical procedures and terms to you
- They can give you a massage, and apply counter pressure to help you feel better
Other than this, a birth doula will also give you emotional support through this highly stressful time of delivering your baby. They can help you feel less frazzled and you can try to avoid epidurals, C-sections, and other labor-inducing methods as far as possible if that is what you want.
A doula will always provide support to not only you but your family members including your partner and friends. Whether you want to have your doula present at your delivery is a very personal choice. Some moms only want their partner to be with them whereas other moms prefer to be alone. Yet others like to have their friends, family as well as a professional doula present.
Moms who have a doula present are said to have a more comfortable birth experience. But this does not mean that you will have a bad delivery if you don’t have a doula!
What Does a Postpartum Doula Do?
The postpartum period is often known as the “fourth trimester” and this is because your body needs time to recover from pregnancy and labor. A postpartum doula is beneficial in the days and weeks that follow your delivery because they support you and your family.
Postpartum doulas train in taking care of the needs of the mom, and her partner, of the newborn baby, older siblings and providing emotional support to the family and home as a whole. They will give you physical, emotional, and informational support especially if you are a new mom.
A postpartum doula will help you cope with issues relating to diaper changes, nursing, swaddling, bathing, sleeping, and other activities related to your new baby. Some postpartum doulas are also lactation consultants as they can help with your baby’s latching techniques. They are not a nanny or a nurse but like an advisor who will help you grow confidence in taking care of your baby.
Before you hire a doula, make sure whether you want to hire a pregnancy doula, birth doula or a postpartum doula. Some doulas have licenses and certificates only for pregnancy, whereas others have certification for birth, yet others are only for postpartum. But you will also find doulas who have got training in all three. It’s not necessary to have a doula, but the extra emotional and physical support definitely helps a new mom.