The short answer is yes, I believe so! And here’s why.
If you have heard of a birth doula before, it probably was with a mother that had an all-natural medication free vaginal birth; in a birth center, hospital or maybe even at home. But in all reality, birth doulas are not just for helping moms cope with the discomfort birthing may bring. They are there to support you not only physically but also emotional and informational too. If you choose to use an epidural for your pain management a doula still is able to serve you in so many ways.
When your baby’s birth day comes…guess what? You can’t usually walk into the hospital and get an epidural placed in your back on the very first wave that brings discomfort your way. If you plan on using an epidural for discomfort management, then right on! You have chosen this route you desire and I love it. You made up your decision for your birth and I will fully support that decision. I may even run down the anesthesiologist and politely drag him to your room at your request. But until you have been given the okay and gotten the anesthesiologist in your room and all set up, I can help. I can help you find comfortable positions that allow the baby to make progress and I can help you with breathing, warm packs on belly or back, counter pressure, hip squeezes or getting you in the shower or tub until you are able and wanting the epidural. Sometimes the epidural does not fully work, in that case, I am still there to support your discomfort needs until they can figure something else out for you. If your epidural works perfectly and you feel nothing at all my work is still not over. I can run and get you or your birth partner food and drinks. I can help you get comfortable and in good positions for baby to keep making its way down and out so you can get some rest. I can paint your toe nails or finger nails while I keep making sure your hips are moving every 20-30 minutes to keep baby making progress. We can all play cards or games together to pass the time. We will make it a fun birthday party that you are still fully supported. Just because you are no longer experiencing discomfort doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty to do for you.
Aside from the physical aspect of hiring a doula, a huge reasons many moms hire me is to support them emotionally through their whole pregnancy process.
Let’s walk through a high level view of the process, starting from the beginning… You find out your expecting and you are so thrilled, but then you start overwhelmed because there are so many different things to think about. You may have many questions about pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. You may start to think about which provider to choose, early pregnancy symptoms you are now experiencing, maternity clothes, eating healthy for your baby, workouts to do during pregnancy, gender reveals, prenatal appointments, baby registry, baby showers, planning and putting together your nursery, days leading up to your “guess date”, maybe you go past your “guess date” and what that means, what your birthing time could look like and what to possibly expect, what options do you have, what questions can or should you ask, what healthcare provider will you choose for your baby, what does a baby being born look like, what does leaving the hospital look like, what does parenting a newborn look like, who is going to help during those early weeks and many more questions just like these.
Who can you ask all of those questions to? A doula! She is there for you emotionally from the time you hire her until, usually, 6 weeks or longer after the baby is born. You can also hire a postpartum doula to help you in your home after the baby is born, with the ins and outs of newborn life. Whether you have chosen a medication free birth or to use an epidural doulas are there to support you not only physically but also, emotionally and informationally. We can hold your hand through the fears, decisions, joys, sadness, overwhelming times, amazing moments and so much more. We are there for you. You may be able to ask or talk with your sister, mother or best friend about all of this information, but as doulas it is our job and you can’t over ask us questions or vent too much to us. Plus, we are well trained on all things pregnancy, birth, and baby. Your family may be very great listeners but as doulas we are qualified in our profession and have been through these moments and questions with many other mothers. We are different from your relatives also, because we are never going to give you advice on what we would do or what we think you should do, we do better than that, we help you decide what you want for yourself. We help you find your “mama voice” in the crazy and fun moments of having a baby.
A birth doula can be a HUGE added bonus to your birth no matter how to choose to do it. It is your birth. I want you to have all the knowledge, information and power you desire to have. Whatever choices you make I will 100% support them throughout your whole pregnancy, birth and postpartum period. I serve mamas and their birth partners fully with complete non-judgmental support.
A prenatal meeting is an in home meeting between a birth doula and her clients before the families birthing time has begun. Usually birth doulas have anywhere between one and four prenatal meetings with their clients. I have two in my package with an option of a third.
At the first prenatal meeting I have with my doula families we discuss their birth desires. Together we make a really neat, unique and visual birth plan that catches the eyes of their providers and nursing staff. We talk about any questions they have and really dig into what they are hoping their birth looks like and what they want to do in case their plans need to change. We get to know one another and really enjoy our time talking and discussing a lot of neat birthy things. It’s usually about 60-90 minutes and I come to your home so you can speak comfortably.
This is an example of one of the birth preference sheets I have helped create for the family.
At the 2nd prenatal meeting I have with that family we have some serious fun. We go through many different things they can experience during their birthing time. The Birth Partner and I learn to work together to best serve mom and I teach some pretty helpful tips to the Birth Partner so they can be there for mom throughout all of the birthing time but especially before the family calls me to join them. My goal for this meeting is to help that family feel so comfortable and knowledgeable about what to expect during the last month of pregnancy, early birthing moments, what it can look like when I join them and few things that may happen after baby is born (the postpartum period).
Teaching this family a technique they can use for relaxation and bonding. They had a blast under the Rebozo. The husband was making his wife laugh and they really enjoyed themselves.
Teaching Dad how to support Mom during their early birthing time before I join them
Here you can see me helping this mom use the rebozo to lift her belly and give her some relief. She loved it. I then showed her husband how to tuck the ends in so she could walk around with her belly lifted and be able to use her hands.
Here we are working as a team and using the rebozo for an easy way to do a double hip squeeze. Dad is having way too much fun!
Teaching dad how to give a relaxing massage that they can do together in pregnancy and early birthing moments.
Dad and I teaming up in a couple different ways to serve mom best. After this prenatal meeting we are all comfortable with each other fully and know how to work together as a birth team. In the background is this mama's mom. She will in there for birthing day so we made sure she knew what we were doing and why we were doing it.
I also offer a third prenatal meeting. It is an add on service to the birth doula package. During that meeting we discuss the postpartum period. What to expect, what are some symptoms you or baby may have, what is normal and what are things that will need your provider or baby’s provider called. This visit helps prepare moms and the birth partners for life once baby is born.
Once you learn that a birth doula is a support person that can help with physical, emotional and informational support during pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum you can probably see why hiring a doula is very beneficial for a mom but did you know there are many reasons why hiring a doula is beneficial for dads too?
5 Reasons Why Hiring a Doula Will be Beneficial for Dad
A doula can give Dad a break if needed.
Dad will need to use the restroom sometime during Mom’s labor. He will also need to drink and to eat something. He may need to take a cat nap because his eyes just can’t stay open (long labors are very real and tiring). Dad may need to take a moment to himself, even if it is to just walk around for a minute to stretch his legs. He may not feel he can do these things, or feel guilty about doing them if your family didn’t hire a doula who can continue to be with Mom while Dad is doing what he may need to do.
A Doula brings her knowledge and experience with her to your birth
(plus a bag full of tricks) that Dad can use to comfort Mom.
Most doulas have attended multiple childbirth classes to learn all things pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum. They should be VERY educated on these areas. Normally they read COUNTLESS books on the above subjects and have supported many families before your family. Each labor and birth is unique so if you come across a doula who is just starting off she will serve your family the same as any another great doula… with all of her heart. A doula also usually has a bag of things with her that can help Dad help Mom. From chap stick that Dad may need to apply; to a special scarf that the doula can teach Dad to use to help Mom with comfort; plus lollipops, mints, heat pads, massage oils, tennis balls plus usually more. But the most important thing your doula will bring that will help Dad help Mom is her brain full of knowledge and a heart that loves questions and supporting families.
A doula can remind Dad of what Mom wants for the
birth and how to make sure he is heard by the staff.
Hospitals are busy places. Nurses change shifts and doctors come and go. Sometimes things get confusing when you don’t remember who you have already spoken to, or who you have explained your birth preferences with. That is where a doula can be helpful to Dad. Mom is busy doing the work she needs to focus on labor, so Dads are called on help talk to the staff and answer questions. If they ask you questions that you can’t quite remember answers to, a doula can pull out the birth preference sheet and remind you of what you and Mom discussed and talked about. And if Mom does need to answer some questions your doula can help remind everyone that they need to wait until she is out of a contraction before she is asked any questions.
Doulas and Dads are great teammates. They can both serve Mom and can support her in all the ways she needs to have support. A neat way a dad explained the process to me was Dad is the right hand and the Doula is the left. Together they can do an amazing job at supporting mom.
How my birth experiences help me to be a better Birth Doula
I have had 3 very different births with a miscarriage thrown in between my boys. Each birth has taught me so much and I am thankful for them all because I can now use that knowledge to help other woman.
First birth=Many Reasons
My first birth was a failed induction. I went in at 39 weeks because I was ready to be done and I was put on loads of pitocin and my water broken really early on. I had an epidural almost right away after the pain started. I just remember grabbing on to the side of my bed and my nurse who was my cousin (who was so super sweet with me) told me not to hold my breath and asked if I wanted an epidural, which I did. It was always my plan to use one for labor pain and I was ready for it. I labored in many different positions (see pic below) but I never made it passed 4cm. I was then taken back to have a non emergency c section. The doctor was half way through my c section and I could feel him doing something, I was yelling out from the pain and fear and he stopped right away. He realized my epidural was not efficient enough to work as my pain blocker for surgery and was I put under general anesthesia. My baby girl was born weighing 9lbs 3 oz at 6:40pm and I met her at 11:00pm when I woke up. I felt horrible and was so nauseous and shaking. I didn't want to hardly hold her or breastfeed her. I literally don't have any pictures of us together in the hospital at least that I have ever seen. I had postpartum depression with her. It was a sad beginning but thankfully she is almost 9 now and we have such an amazing mother daughter bond that just started MANY months after she was born. This delivery helps me as a doula because I have personal experience in: Induction, failed induction, Pitocin, epidurals, non emergency c section and emergency c section, epidural as a pain blocker for c section and general anesthesia for pain blocker and postpartum depression.
Here is the below pic I promised :-)