Every birth’s ultimate goal is a healthy mom and a healthy baby (or babies in my case). As a first-time mom preparing to deliver twins, I had no idea how to accomplish this goal. I was beyond terrified.
Luckily, UMC in Lubbock provides specially certified childbirth experts called doulas to help guide moms. From helping me decide if I was in labor to holding my hand, she was by my side through it all.
But what is a doula?
What is a doula?
The word doula is Greek for “servant.” Birth Doulas serve birthing families through education, physical and emotional support during pregnancy and throughout labor and birth.
What exactly does a doula do?
Birth doulas are hired privately by families or arranged through a program. Generally speaking, doulas meet with their clients during the second or third trimesters for at least one to two prenatal conferences. The meetings usually consist of the doula learning the birthing family’s choices, learning about the other members of the birthing team like the provider(s) and other support people, and getting to know each other. Doulas are there for educational and emotional support via phone as the pregnancy progresses and is on-call for when their labor begins. They are physically present for labor throughout the birth and the postpartum adjustment period (generally one to two hours).
How does one become a doula? Are there specific certifications/training?
Training is offered through the world’s most prestigious certifying organization, DONA International, under Kathy McGrath in Pittsburgh, PA. One can begin attending births there and finish a certification.
What does a doula do during birth?
Support each person during birth varies. It depends on the wishes of the family. Doulas are always available for informational support on what is normal, what may help at the moment, and what to expect, and risks and benefits to possible interventions. They can support families physically by providing positional techniques, massage, hip squeezes, and counter pressure or even instructing the birthing partner in these so that they may be more involved in a hands-on way. Doulas may help you in and out of a birthing tub or shower. They may use a rebozo, birth and peanut balls, massage tools. She may be the person holding your hand and talking you through big decisions or making sure you are comfortable once the epidural has kicked in. Sometimes a doula can be a calming presence or your photographer in the operating room.
How does a doula support mom and baby after?
After the baby arrives, doulas help establish skin to skin time, make sure the family’s wishes are met with delayed cord clamping or vaccinations, get family water/refreshments, help promote breastfeeding and assist if needed.
What are resource recommendations available to expecting moms considering using a doula?
Well, www.dona.org is a great place to start researching certified doulas in your area! There is also a newer website: doulamatch.com that could be helpful. And there is nothing like word of mouth! Ask your friends, family, or colleagues.
Tell us about your birthing experience in the comments below!