WHY USE A DOULA?
Great question! A lot of research has been done to prove the benefits of having a doula present during labor.
In short, having a doula accompany and support you during pregnancy, birth and postpartum increases your chances of positive birth outcomes.
What does this mean?
◇ Lower birth risks
◇ Shorter duration of labor
◇ Lower chances of a caesarian section
◇ Lower chances of epidurals or other interventions
◇ Gives you a greater sense of satisfaction with your birth experience
◇ Gives a greater sense of confidence, capability and happiness in the newborn phase
If you’d like to see the science behind these findings, I recommend checking out Evidence Based Birth.
WHAT SPECIFICALLY DO YOU DO?
WHAT ABOUT THE BIRTH PARTNER?
It is never a doula’s role to take the place of the birth partner (husband, wife, partner, friend, family member, etc) during labour, but rather to complement and enhance their experience. Many partners are very actively involved in the birth process. For some, it is overwhelming, or they simply wish to observe and witness the labor and birth without having to play the role of the labour coach. For whatever kind of partner, I encourage them by guiding and informing, to make their experience a positive one.
A doula will assist and show the birth partner how to use relaxation techniques such as massage and breathing to support their partner. She will also allow the birth partner to relax if they need a break without leaving the birthing mother unsupported.
WHAT IF I’M PLANNING A MEDICALLY ASSISTED OR C-SECTION BIRTH?
A doula is there to support you in whatever choices you make for your birth. To have a doula present in the labor room is beneficial, regardless of the type of birth you are planning. A doula provides emotional, physical and informational support to you in whatever situation. In a medicated birth (induction or epidural, etc) this can mean helping you deal with side effects, managing discomfort, and supporting you mentally (especially when it’s a long process). For a caesarean, a doula will provide constant support and encouragement, guide you through the process, suggest ways to make it calm, memorable and positive, and will prepare you for an empowered birth experience.
It is not the doula’s role to choose your type of birth, or to try and steer you one way or another with your decisions. Whatever your preferences, she will be with you, supporting you and improving your birth experience.
WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR BIRTH HERE IN SAN FRANCISCO AND THE BAY AREA?
You’ve got lots! And it can be overwhelming. I am more than happy to discuss the hospital, birth center and midwife/obstetrician situation here in SF. Get in touch, let’s chat.
WHAT BOOKS DO YOU RECOMMEND?
I have a whole list of books, websites, and essays that are all great reads. (If you are my client, you have access to borrow all these titles and many more from my library.)
DOESN’T A MIDWIFE DO ALL THIS?
In short, no. The support of a doula is very different to that of a midwife. Your midwife is there to monitor you and your baby’s health, and make sure you deliver your baby safely. If you’re in a hospital setting, she’s going to be looking after other birthing people at the same time as you, so her time with you is divided and sometimes brief. Hospital policies and rostering simply don’t allow for a midwife to be with you at all times. If you’re in a birth center or at home, she does give you more personalised attention, but her focus remains on the safe delivery of the baby and the health of both of you. There are AMAZING midwives out there, who will enhance your experience and empower you – and they pair beautifully with a doula. A doula provides constant emotional and physical support and guidance to you – and so by having both a doula and your midwife, you are receiving the best possible care.
I’M 30+ WEEKS! HAVE I LEFT IT ALL TOO LATE?
No! You can (and should!) hire a doula right up into the last days of your pregnancy. A doula will make time to see you, listen to your thoughts and preferences, and make a plan with you before you go into labor. She will work to connect with you so you feel confident that you’ve got a reliable and known support in the birthing space with you. The benefits of having a doula are just as great if you hire one at 18 weeks or 38 weeks!
I HAVE A DIFFERENT QUESTION.
I’ll do my best to answer it, let’s talk.