There are many people who don't know what a doula even is and even when someone "thinks" they know there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the role of a doula in and out of birth. Let's clear some of those things up now.
Let's start with what a doula is not.
A doula is not a midwife.
Midwives catch. Doulas support. While most of us have some degree of training a doula is NOT a medical professional, midwives are. We do not deliver your baby. We do not check your cervix and we do not diagnose or treat medical conditions.
A doula is not a birth advocate.
The moment a doula steps through your door all of their opinions on the "right" way to birth a baby should stay behind them. We are not there to create our perfect vision of birth; we're there to support you and help you try to attain YOUR vision.
Not all of us are super crunchy.
It seems to be a pretty common misconception that all doulas are the eptiome of treehugging free spirits and are only here to serve our like. Now don't get me wrong, you won't be hard pressed to find dreads, tattoos, coconut oil, cloth diapers, essential oils and lots of organic food amoung us, but it's not some unwritten rule somewhere. There are plenty of "silky" doulas out there and all doulas should be able to leave their beliefs behind them to support you.
Let's look at the awesome things that a doula is!
A doula is the embodiement of unwavering support.
Your doula should be able to offer you unbiased information on any topic relating to your birth and labor. We are able to help you come to the best decisions for you and your family by not letting our own opinions muddy the simple facts we are tasked to give you. Your doula won't judge you for your choices either! We will not leave you because you do something differently than we would. We will stand firmly by your side the entire way.
Doulas actually remember all those techniques from your birthing class.
In the moment those few hours you spent learning how to cope sometimes fly out of your head. Don't worry, our double hip squeezes are out of this world. We know how to help you pace your breathing. We understand visualization and many of us specialize in other labor pain relief methods.
A doula supports your entire birth team.
If dad wants help easing your pain, we'll show him. If the grandma-to-be has a hard time understanding something, we're there to explain it to her. If a nurse needs our help with something, we're there in an instant.
We remember the little things that get lost in the moment.
We remember you wanted the lights dimmed down, and hit them the second we walk in the room. When it comes time to push, your doula remembers to shut the TV off. As everyone else is caught up in the little miracle about to enter this world, your doula remembers the song you wanted to play at this moment. While everyone oohs and ahhs over your newborn, we remember that you asked us to snap a few photos with your phone.
Doulas support mothers in the postpartum period as well.
We don't fly out the door the moment your baby is born. We continue to offer you our support and experience afterwards. We leave after you're comfortable. We'll stop by a few days later to check on you. We want to hear how you are and how we can continue to support you. There are even postpartum doulas who make multiple visits to your home to continue supporting you for as long as you need.
In short a doula is a non-medical professional who offers compassionate and unbiased support to a laboring mother and her birth support team from the start of her pregnancy and beyond, advancing well into the postpartum period. Our goal is to continue to raise the percentage of mothers who leave with positive birth experiences because nothing sticks in a woman's mind like her birth story. We will be there through it all to hold your hand, rub your back, and help you rock your birth like we already know you can.