The journey into parenthood is filled with new and exciting physical and emotional experiences. As with any big transformation, it is unrealistic to expect that you can learn everything there is to know in the 40-ish weeks it takes to grow a baby. Information overload and decision fatigue are common among families navigating this path. One way to filter through the chaos and bring a sense of calm to this time is to hire a doula.
Despite an ever-growing number of families using doulas during childbirth and postpartum, there are still many misconceptions about what doulas are and their role in pregnancy, birth and beyond. Let’s explore some of the most commonly asked questions about doulas.
What is a Doula?
Do doulas deliver babies and perform medical procedures?
No. A doula is a professional trained in childbirth or postpartum support, not a medical professional. They provide continuous physical comfort measures, emotional anchoring and evidence-based informational support.
Are doulas only present for labor and birth?
Not at all! Doulas do so much more than provide labor support.
Birth or labor doulas work with families during pregnancy, labor and birth, and the first couple of weeks after birth. Postpartum doulas work with families during the postpartum period. Full-spectrum doulas bring the doula model of care to any pregnancy discourse and outcome, including miscarriage, planned abortion or medical termination, stillbirth, surrogacy or adoption.
I’m planning a hospital/home/cesarean birth. Will my doula support that?
Yes! Doulas support provider-attended births at home, free-standing birth centers, and hospitals. They provide evidence-based information around your birth location’s policies, and offer unbiased support no matter how each family chooses to birth their baby. The doula’s main goal is to help ensure that each family member has their best experience regardless of the tools you use in labor or where you choose to birth.
If I’m planning to get an epidural, is a doula still helpful?
Even if you choose to use pain medication or an epidural in labor, you will can still benefit from the informational support, coping tools and comfort measures provided by doulas, especially in pregnancy and early labor. In labor, doula support can help you delay medication, or use a smaller amount (nitrous or IV pain narcotics). Having an epidural may increase the likelihood of other interventions required to monitor or treat you and your baby. Doulas can help you cope with unexpected changes and provide information about each of these interventions. They can also help with position changes to encourage labor progress, and help you learn to coordinate the mechanics of pushing with an epidural.
Visit Brave Birth Doula Care to find the perfect doula for your family.
A collaborative piece, written for PDX Birth with the doulas of Brave Birth Doula Care.