What is a Doula and what does it do?
A Doula is a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical , emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth.* She is usually self employed therefore works for the mother and her family and not for other institutions such as a hospital, Dr. or Midwife. That means she is there to serve the needs of the birthing mother with no agency or middleman to report to. The Doula is hired by the mothers she works with.
As a Doula, I provide pre -made packages, though you are encouraged to adjust any package to best suit your needs. I offer private workshops in your home parlty to build a relationship of trust with you, but also to inform you and to explore issues that can come up during labour and delivery. Workshop topics include but are not limited to:
- Writing a birth Vision
- Mind and Body preperation
- Stages of Labour
- Natural Childbirth techniques
- Drugs, procedures and interventions
- Postpartum Care and baby-proofing your marriage
A Doula never provides medical services, not under any circumstance. We are trained to provide physical, emotional and informational support and it is strictly out of our scope of practice to perform vaginal exams, break your water or prescribe or provide any medications.
As a Doula, you can expect me to be on call at every hour of every day by telephone, both home line and cellular. I can alos be reached with questions via email, which I typically check several times per day. I can be reached with questions, you can request that I do a litle bit of research for you on special topics for our next appointment. Most importnantly, I can always be reached when you suspect changes in your body that might indicate labour is commencing. Instead of making a trip to the hospital or calling your midwives several times, you can always contact me with signs of labour and I can help you determine what these signs indicate. That said, I am ther to provide assistance, and in no way replace your primary care giver. I will certainly respect your wishes to contact your midwife or Dr. prior to contacting me and will also help you identify a good time to contact your midwife so that she may come to your home or to help you decide when to go to the hospital.
I prefer to meet you at your home in early labour when things start to pickup and you begin to feel the need for a litle extra help. For example, perhaps you've contacted me earlier in the day with contractions but felt you were doing just fine and were going to have your daily walk out with your dog and maybe do some shopping. You managed well feeling lite contractions through the day. However, when you come home to make supper, you find that it becomes a difficult task and can't focus on anything but your contractions when they occur. At this point, your contractions might still be 7 minutes appart, but you feel them strongly and could use some support. I can come over to help you cope with any pain or insecurities and fear, I can help you through meditations and breathing exercise to create a calm and relaxed atmosphere. The more you can stay calm and focused, the better your chance of having a positive birth experience.
During your labour, you can expect me to help you breath, to suggest and support changes in positions, to provide continuous emmotional support through encouragement and just being there, I can bring you juice, cold wash clothes, massage you, help you understand what is happening in your body. When I know what your birth vision is, I can advocate for your choices. For example, perhaps you feel strongly about having undirected pushing. I can help you with this by 10 not directing your pushing 2) reminding other persons presnet not to direct your pushing (ie not counting to 10).
I stay with you until the baby is born and usually until you are settled with baby. This usually takes acouple of hours after the birth. It is up to your discretion to indicate to me when I should be present. There is no set time for me to arrive or depart from your birth. If you are coping just fine on your own in early labour, it is up to you to decide when I should become part of your birth. Similarly, once I am with you at your home, or even in a hospital setting, you can always let me know if you want some private time alone with a family member. This is completely acceptable and I will respect your needs.
I offer post partum support as well. Once you have settled in to your home, I am available to support you with breastfeeding, basic baby care, holding your baby while you have a shower, help you with a meal and lite house duties like folding laundry. This is not to be confused with a babysitter or maid service! I am there to support mother and baby in getting their basic needs met and in revisiting the birth experience as emotional support.
*Klaus, Marshall H., John Kennel and Phyllis Klaus. Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing House, 1993.