- 9 things a doula can do for you -
Traditionally a doula is a female caregiver who offers non-medical support to women and their partners during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum period. Doulas do not diagnose medical conditions, offer second opinions, or give medical advice. Instead they offer physical, emotional, and educational support, empowering families with important tools for self-care. Research shows that working with a doula can decrease the length of labor, reduce stress, and create a more memorable and positive birth experience. As a result, babies have higher Apgar scores, stronger bonds with their parents, and increased breastfeeding success. Still wondering what this looks like in practice?
Research - The number of resources available about childbirth can be absolutely overwhelming, especially when you start doing random Google searches. A doula can help by providing you with books, online reading, and videos that are from well-known, reputable sources based on real research. Most doulas will ensure that these resources are unbiased and provide multiple different perspectives - our job isn’t to make choices for you, but to help you find the information you need to make an educated decision.
Birth preferences - Although some people will call this a birth ‘plan’, you can never fully plan for a birth! But a doula can help you create a list of preferences by prompting you to consider decisions such as interventions and delayed cord clamping. Your doula will also be knowledgeable about the specific policies at the hospital/birthing centre in your area.
Preparing for postpartum - If you decide not to receive support from a postpartum doula, a birth doula can still help you create a plan to ensure you are cared for. This may include prepping freezer meals, locating a lactation consultant in case one is needed, and discussing products for postpartum healing.
Labor & Birth
Advocacy - Whether you’re planning a natural hospital birth, a home birth, or anything in between, a doula can help you advocate for your birth choices. As agents of social change, doulas strive to achieve an environment of empathy and compassion, addressing any mistreatment that may arise. A doula may gently remind other members of your birthing team (nurses, doctors, etc.) about your right to make choices, but our intention is not to cause conflict, but rather to create space for you to advocate for yourself.
Comfort measures - This is something that many mums get really excited about. During labor, doulas can help you with positioning, breathing techniques, massage, and anything else you might need in order to feel as comfortable as possible.
Tracking labor - Most people are told to only call their care provider once they’re having ‘regular contractions’, but timing each contraction and watching the clock can be overwhelming. A doula will be with you at the beginning of early labor to note the length of each contraction and help you decide when to call your care provider. This support allows you to focus on labor, and can be very reassuring for a new parent.
Support - The most important way a doula can help during the postpartum period is to make you feel supported, whether that’s through conversation or cooking nourishing meals. A doula will be a wealth of knowledge about postpartum healing and newborn care; some doulas may also have additional training in breastfeeding support.
Childcare - This varies from person to person, but most postpartum doulas will help by taking care of your newborn while you shower, go to appointments, or just take break for yourself. Many postpartum doulas can also do overnight shifts, and some will provide care for siblings (and fur babies) as well.
Light housework - As a new mum, we want you to focus all your energy on your little one. A doula can take care of household tasks such as laundry, dishes, and cooking so you can heal and connect with your baby. The extent of these tasks will vary depending on your doula, so it’s important to clarify this beforehand.
Have you received support from a doula? Why or why not?
Interested in our birth and/or postpartum doula services? Contact us for your free consult.