About birth & postpartum doula
Wikipedia defines Birth Doula as a birth companion, birth coach, a non-medical person who assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth, to provide emotional support and physical help if needed. They also may provide support to the mother’s partner and family.
Before the labour, the Doula and the family can develop a relationship where the mother and her partner feel free to ask questions and express fears and concerns, and where the mother can take an active role in creating her preferred birth plan.
Translating from Greek, “Doula” means “Servant-woman”.
Unlike a midwife, Doulas are not medical professionals and therefore cannot administer medication, perform vaginal checks to evaluate the birth progress, it’s out of their scope of practice and if some Doulas do so, the whole responsibility of the birth outcome is on them.
However, especially in the hospital setting, midwives have several mamas to look after and other duties to perform and the doctor usually arrives the last minute. In this case a Doula will be next to you continuously as her only duty is You.
Doulas may or may not be certified and there are several international organizations who provide profound courses based on medical resources. All the information given is meant to be evidence based.
Interesting enough that many medical professionals (like nurses or midwives) at a certain point choose to become Doulas. Thus, they may have rich hospital experience behind their backs while providing moral support throughout.
Numerous studies show that with the continuous support during birth from a person outside the mother’s family or social circle, such as a Doula, is associated with reduced mortality rates, improved overall health of the mother and the baby, shorter labour time, reduced risk of a cesaerean, and a lower need for medical interventions such as instrumental delivery and pain relief.
The overall goal of a Doula is for the mother to feel safe, be informed and feel comfortable throughout the birthing process.
In fact, a Doula can provide various kinds of support during childbirth. It can be physical or emotional assistance.
Physical assistance may include massage, suggestion of more appropriate positions for the optimal baby’s rotation, preparation of the refreshing or warming drinks (depending on the stage of birth), make sure mama gets all the necessary nourishment to keep her energy levels high.
Emotional support may involve “scenery” arrangement to make the environment cozy and familiar with the help of music choice, essential oils, massage oils, affirmations - all prepared together with the mama in advance.
For those purposes apart from my general training, I also accomplished training courses in Thailand and learnt Thai massage soothing techniques; from the traditional Mexican midwife i’ve learnt the techniques that are performed with rebozo (a traditional Mexican shawl).
When is the best time to start preparation and find the Doula?-It’s a personal choice.
I always emphasize that getting to know each other before birth is beneficial for birth parties, in this case, the mama and her Doula feel more relaxed and comfortable in the presence of each other at birth.
What is the other important factor to consider? Try to interview several people until you find the one with whom you’ll “click”.
Despite some of us (Doulas) go through the same courses, attend the same workshops and read the same books, what distinguishes us from each other is our personality.
As Birth in general is a very personal and intimate process, surround yourself with the familiar people. By inviting someone to be present at Your Birth and let him/her take care of you, you’ll demonstrate your trust and loyalty to this person.
Continuity of support by the same person is thought to be an important aspect of the relationship between Doula and Mother.
The primary role of a Doula (Birth Doula or Postpartum Doula) is to provide information, help parents develop skills, and to offer social, emotional , and/or practical support to new parents.
A new mother’s emotional and social experience of the first days and weeks of parenting can be challenging, even daunting.
It also can be happening because of the changes in her body, including hormonal shifts.
All of a sudden, after the long-awaited arrival of the baby, you become a parent and start to combine the roles of a mother, a partner and a woman all at once. How difficult can that be? - Incredibly! And all this is happening in the real time with the body to still keep recovering after the long and intense hours of birth.
Your life becomes concentrated around one little human being 24/7 to the extent that you have no time to take a shower sometimes.
Here is where a Postpartum Doula can step in and give you a hand with your household or kitchen/cooking duties or even basic baby care.
She can take your baby out for you to sleep or do something of your own.
Every extra help is valuable and irreplaceable, especially the first couple of weeks (maybe months) of life of your baby.
Apart from that, a Postpartum Doula can provide you with care to heal and recover after birth faster and more effectively.
For these purposes I acquired the knowledge and techniques from the Mexican and Thai cultures where traditions are still strong and where they successfully combine the knowledge of East and West.