What does a doula add to my pregnancy and birth journery?
I hate travelling on my own. Especially going somewhere I haven’t gone before. I feel vulnerable and quite often stupid. Feeling I should know things I don’t know. And then getting lost on top of that? On my own, in a strange city or country?
I remember being in tears in Amsterdam while looking for the location of my Dutch lesson. It was raining hard and my google maps kept getting my location wrong. And the time I was walking through the airport in Seattle at midnight. With tears running down my face. I was supposed to get a shuttle to my hotel, but there was no one there to help me. No one there to point me in the direction of the shuttle service. I didn’t have a cellphone on me.
On the other hand, I remember getting lost in a dangerous part of Cape Town with a group of friends. I was one of the calm ones, saying we should just make a u-turn and aim for Table Mountain. And the time I arrived at Nice Airport at midnight with two friends. Our flight was delayed by hours. No one to help us, trying to figure out from where and what time the buses were leaving for town. Was I crying or scared? No, I was sitting outside the airport at what looked like a bus station, having a drink and chatting about the week, hoping that the bus would show up at some point. It did after about an hour.
So what does this have to do with Doulas and birth?
In my opinion, everything. I see having a Doula as having that friend at your side on your pregnancy and birth journey. You will be going through exactly the same things that you would have without them there, but you have someone with you to give you security and comfort.
This is where I will put my disclaimer in again. Although I believe that everyone should have access to a doula, not everyone needs a doula. Some women feel empowered doing things on their own. Travelling on their own. Learning new things on their own. Or they feel supported enough with the support team they already have. We are all different and have different needs.
But if you are someone that needs the security of someone by your side that has the knowledge and skill to help you, I’d strongly suggest that you consider a doula. Not only does a doula come with heaps of knowledge (how the hospital system works, what your body goes through during the different stages of birth, what is “normal”, what are the different options for pain relief, what are the different options for induction, birth positions, the list goes on) she is also there to help you make this knowledge your own. To help you think about what works for you, which benefits are important to you, which risks you find acceptable in which ones you don’t.
She is also there to support both you and your partner. Going through and trying out different birth positions and counter pressure techniques. Giving your partner tips on how to feel useful (many partners find this the most difficult part, they want to help, but they don’t know how). How to support you in the shower, or during a water birth. How to help make you comfortable. If you don’t have a birth partner your doula will be there to help you.
While the midwives’ and doctors’ main focus is to keep you, your baby and their other patients as safe and healthy as possible, the doula is there to add on to your birth team. You will be her main focus and she will be at your side during the whole process, reminding you that you already have the knowledge and the strength that you need, helping with physical support and keeping you focused. While midwives and doctors will come and go as they need to change shifts, your doula will be a consistent in the room. She does not replace anyone in your birth team, she adds on to the birth team you already have around you.
This is why, as I’ve mentioned in my post Choosing your Doula, it is so important to take your time to find a Doula that you connect with.
You can also read my post about how much time a doula puts into her clients here.