When approaching the idea that you may want to hire a doula for your expected birth there may be a lot of questions. There is a ton of great information out there explaining the role of a doula, the different methods used and incredible statistics proving the benefits. There are many doulas in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. TONS. When you do sit down with a doula or a few, often, you will choose the doula you felt the most connected with. The doula you felt comfortable speaking to and opening up to about your fear, concerns and birth vision. This connection alone will boost your confidence in approaching your birth! When you equip yourself with a professional that has dedicated their career to birth work and serving expecting families, there is a sense of security that you have a strong supporter in your corner. Hiring a doula isn’t and shouldn’t ever be a “luxury” service and it is sometimes called. All expecting families should have the opportunity to have doula support on their side, thus why a lot of doula’s can accept HSA, or will even offer sliding fee so that you as the client don’t have to feel out of reach to a service that is so much impact.
Awareness & Education
When I was first having children I had ZERO idea where to start when I found out I was
pregnant. A lot of us just schedule our first appointment with our Dr. 's or OB’s and don’t always take the time to research or explore all the options for maternity care. I had no idea Birth Centers even existed and I definitely didn’t think having my baby at home was an option. Personally, if I would have known more about my options I would have done things so differently. It isn’t a welcome feeling to look back and think, “would if?”. That alone is another wonderful reason to get in touch with a doula. Most doula’s attend births at all different locations and have the experience to give a more insightful recommendation based on your needs, concerns and desires for your birth. Many doula’s also offer a lot of great resources and recommendations on classes, reading materials, educational films and support groups! #wealthofknowledge
More Positive Birth Experience
We all have those friends or family members that love to share their traumatic birth experience. More often than not we hear about the negatives before we hear about the positives. People walk away remembering how they felt and when you felt negatively, it sticks to you differently and leaves more of an impression. Unfortunately there are A LOT of women out there that have had traumatic birth experiences and sometimes those very women project their fears on the people around them. It is completely 100% natural for fear to rise up around the idea of giving birth, especially when you’ve never experienced anything remotely similar. How do you prepare for something like that? While we cannot predict or guarantee the outcomes of our birth stories, we can educate, empower and prepare for whatever may come along the way whilst still working in the same direction of our goal. Studies show there is a 31% decrease in dissatisfaction within the birth experience of those who hired a doula. Meaning, the continuous support of a doula can overall improve your experience OVERALL. That is fantastic. A doula’s presence can bring so much good into a birth environment, a sense of calm, a sense of support and can be a guide along the journey of labor.
Partners Feel Better Prepared
There sometimes is an opinion floating around that a Doula can get in the way of or replace the partners role during a birth. It is simply not true!! I often express the importance of a partner's involvement and how much of a positive impact they can have! As doula’s it’s our job to educate, support and prepare BOTH parents, not just the mother. At prenatal's I teach partners massage techniques, labor support methods and positions, recommend reading material or other educational materials. A line I often use is,
“ You’ve been with (partner) for x amount of years, your relationship is deeper and meaningful! The more in touch you are to each other the more of
that love hormone we need is released.”
“You’ve loved (partner) for a lot longer than you’ve known me so why wouldn’t I want an essential part of the team playing the field?”
It is so important for partners to be just as prepared and educated. A lot of times husbands look at me with a helplessness of unknown when I first meet them. They’ve been made to feel they should take the back seat during childbirth and don’t know how to be of help. Well as a doula, I say enough of that! You’re UP! Let’s get to work, because at the end of the birth, the partner is the primary support person to the recovering mother and newborn baby. It would be a disservice to not provide guidance and education to the partner who will very much impact the birth and postpartum experience.
10% of women need less medical interventions or medications during their births when a Doula is present. Not only do mother’s (and Partners!) feel more at peace and supported during their births, but a doula can also assist in the progress of labor as well depending on the doula’s training. I absolutely love this part of my job and it is so exciting to work with the body during labor. It is amazing how the tools a doula’s equips herself with can impact pain management, labor progress and even the length of labor! A huge part of my practice is helping mothers connect to their body and help them understand how it all ties together. There is so much we are still learning about childbirth but there is so much we have already discovered! Having the options that a doula can offer can make such a difference during labor: Motivation, encouragement, keeping the mother focused, and comforting her through each surge/wave/contraction.
Comfort Measures: Reducing pain naturally
Speaking of reducing interventions! How do we do that? What tools do we use? How does it work?
Glad you asked :)
Like I said before, this is the part of my job I just love. Doula’s use comfort measures during active labor to help comfort and encourage the mother along the way. Within my practice, I implement prenatal yoga, Spinning Babies methods, stretches and other exercises during the earlier active phases of the labor to encourage the body and work with the body’s natural rhythm. When we do this, our bodies and our babies are better in sync with the labor and can reduce tension, painful contractions/waves and shorten the length of time. When labor gets further and closer to the finish line, we then use the comfort measures to help reduce pain, keep the mother focused and maintaining the mindset of the mother so that she has the will to continue to the end. Massage, aromatherapy, counter pressure, hot/cold therapy, hypnobirthing/meditations, verbal coaching, breathing guidance and labor positioning are all the tools that are important to me as a doula.
Because doula’s utilize so many different tools and comfort measures, mothers experience shorter labors. Although we can’t always pinpoint the EXACT reason, we can take an educated guess that because of the doula support and guidance, laboring mothers are calmer, more aware of themselves and have more confidence in themselves during labor. Mind and body connection is very real. Many of us have experienced that first hand at least once in our lives. If you set your mind on a goal, prepare yourself for the desired outcome and train your body and mind to align with the result that you want, your chances of obtaining that victory is much higher than if you sat back and let the chips fall where they may. Again, we cannot control birth or predict it, but we certainly can gain control over ourselves and how we handle our births, take charge and at least play an active role in the process.
Lower the chance of a C-Section
Out of all the people I meet with for consultation, the fear of a C-Section is probably the top 3 reasons someone wants to hire a doula. The idea of major surgery is terrifying to most people, and it should be! It is MUCH more daunting than giving birth, let me tell you! Yes, C-Sections are often successful and I know and have assisted many C-Sections, but many mothers don’t want the C-Sections they ended up with and often it was for an avoidable reason. Cesarean Surgery is the 3rd most performed surgery in the U.S. today. 1 in 3 surgeries performed is a C-Section… Can someone tell me the problem with that picture? Our culture has normalized c-sections as a birth method and it is so often overused. There is a need for balance between western medicine and nature. A focus as a doula is to help in the cause of supporting women and reducing the need for c-sections or interventions. Does that mean you won’t need a C-Section if you hire a doula? Man, we would be making A LOT more money if we could promise birth outcomes! LOL
Those who have a doula can reduce their risk of C-Section up to 50%
You could still need a C-Section and thank goodness western medicine has its place when it is NEEDED. It’s discovering that fine line between necessity and convenience. WE can’t control every birth as doula’s but we can try to impact them. We have no say over your decision or the decision your provider wants to make, but we can offer alternative choices, options and methods to help avoid an undesirable choice. We aren’t miracle workers, (even if it feels like it sometimes :) and we can’t make false claims, but I would rather be on the side of the line believing that my client can have her baby vaginally and use every tool I can to help her do that.
Healthier Mothers & Babies
We have already covered the positive effects that a doula can have on a birth story, but we can also see those effects later down the line into postpartum recovery and beyond. Not only is the overall satisfaction of the birth experience higher, but that also leads into a smoother recovery. Because there are fewer interventions, less medications used and c-sections are avoided, your recovery is a fraction of what it could potentially be. When we feel heard, have the resources we need, and feel safe and supported we are better equipped to take care of ourselves, our bodies and our minds. Advocating for you is one the pillars of our role as a doula. I do that from prenatal to postpartum. After you deliver your precious newborn, I stay up to 2 hours after delivery to ensure you have all your needs met. Depending on your preferences, these 2 hours can consist of many fundamental steps for long term success in recovery and breastfeeding.
Long Term Breastfeeding Success
The first feeding is both so special but also so important. Because you have utilized a doula, you will likely have a much healthier recovery and thus breastfeeding has a better start. When I am with you for up to 2 hours after delivery, I help ensure that all your wishes are met. Delayed cord clamping, honoring the golden hour, skin to skin and and the initial feeding are so vital. As a breastfeeding counselor I have the knowledge and the resources to help you reach your breastfeeding goals whatever they may be. There is so much information out there about breastfeeding and it can be overwhelming, especially adding in all the opinions. Compassionate and educated support is such a big help when navigating your new role as a mother. Breastfeeding is hard work! So having a Doula to reach out to is important. Even if your doula isn’t a breastfeeding counselor or consultant, they will likely have access to one that can help you and quickly!
So if you are considering having a doula join you, I hope that this post was helpful and encouraging. I am so passionate about this work and knowing it makes such a huge difference in the lives of those I serve makes such a fulfilling career choice.
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