Before I start this post off, I want to make sure everyone knows the difference between a Doula and a Midwife.
A DOULA is not a medical professional. We do NOT offer medical advice, referrals, physical checks, deliver babies, or any clinical tasks. We DO offer emotional support, informational support, advocacy and physical support throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Doula's are a pregnancy, birth and postpartum support person. There are also different types of Doulas: Birth Doulas, Postpartum Doula's and Palliative/Loss Doulas.
A MIDWIFE is a trained medical professional who performs clinical skills, provides ongoing health care during pregnancy and the first six weeks postpartum. Midwives are health care providers that can deliver babies at home or at a hospital, depending on where you choose to have your baby and they are covered by MSP! They support you during your pregnancy, birth and postpartum period and are your primary health care provider during pregnancy if you choose them to be.
Essentially, a Midwife will provide all of the "medical" care and a Doula will provide all of the "support" care. A Midwife and Doula both compliment each other in their work and are wonderful members to have on your birth team. I will do a later post on how you can benefit from having both a Midwife and Doula on your team.
SO WHAT DOES A DOULA DO?
When you hire a Doula, you are ensuring you have continuous non-judgemental support during your pregnancy. Your Doula will provide you with evidenced based information during your pregnancy on things such as early induction, cesarean sections, nutrition, prenatal comfort techniques, the childbirth process, etc. As a Doula, I am continuously learning new information and keeping up to date on pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum related materials. Some great websites to have a look at are: Evidenced Based Birth , Lamaze International and Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. Your Doula will provide you with evidenced based information to help you advocate for yourself and your baby and make informed decisions on your care. As your Doula, I DO NOT make decisions for you, or talk to medical staff on your behalf, but I help you by providing up to date information to you so you can be empowered to make choices that best suit you and your family.
As your Doula, I provide ongoing emotional support during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. This means that I am here for you, to hold space for you, and I will always do my best to ensure you feel safe and supported. Doula's hold space for you during pregnancy if you are struggling emotionally through your relationships, accepting the pregnancy, accepting the loss of a pregnancy, loss of a child, etc. We hold space for you to work through your own emotions and feelings and always do so in a non-judgemental way. I am not a therapist or counsellor, but I do my work with an open heart and an open mind. Having a child is a life altering experience, we don't just birth a child but we birth a mother through the process and its an emotional journey we must work through, accept and process. I support you during labor, when you're in the throws and riding the waves and surges. It is extremely important that we have someone with us during birth that can hold space and not try to fix things or disrupt the birthing process. This is my intention at your birth as your doula: to be there, holding space and ensuring you are the one in control of your birth. Emotional support is provided by a Doula during the postpartum period. Although ever aspect of childbirth and pregnancy is emotional and vulnerable, quite often the postpartum period is when mothers are at their most vulnerable. A lot of focus is shifted to the new baby at this point, and mothers and fathers will have varying types of emotions about their pregnancy, birth and new baby and that is ok. I am here to support you during this time.
Doula's are also wonderful for providing physical support during labor. We have our little bag of tricks to help you become most comfortable during labor. We are trained in specific positions and techniques that are known to help widen the pelvis, relieve back pain, encourage baby's proper positioning and we also give really relaxing back rubs. We aren't massage therapists (some of us are) but we are here to help you during this time of intensity. We do not replace your partners role at the birth. We support them as well! During the prenatal visits I like to go over some helpful positions and techniques with both you and your partner so that when the time comes, your partner is able to provide you with some comfort measures. So often I hear that dads are worried about being "replaced" during the labor and delivery of their baby when a mom is considering hiring a Doula. This is NOT the case! We support both you, the mother and the father! Birth is intense, not just for the mother but the father/partner too. I make a conscious effort to support both of you when I am with you, emotionally, physically and with informationally. Some labors last hours, and partners need to eat and rest and take bathroom breaks so they can properly support their partner! That's where I come in. I'll be there to hold your hand or rub your back, or hold space for you while your partner goes to grab a bite to eat before your baby makes his or her grand appearance. It's important that both mother and father/partner feel supported and that is what I'm there for--not to replace anyone.
Doula's truly do so much more than just provide emotional, informational and physical support. This work usually calls us into it. As your Doula, my ultimate goal is to make sure you feel empowered and safe and supported. You already have the power within you to birth your baby--but I am here to remind you of that. Everyone deserves a doula, they aren't just for people having home birth, doula's have been around since women have been having babies, they just weren't always necessarily called a doula. Childbirth throughout history involves women supporting women. (Men can be Doula's too). Pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period aren't meant to be done alone. Women need to be supported and feel safe during these times as they are truly our most vulnerable times in our lives. We undergo life altering changes when we decide to have a baby. We birth a mother when we birth a child, truly, and it is so important that we are surrounded by non judgmental love and support.
Doula's are vitally important to improve child birth experiences. There is evidence that hiring a doula greatly improves outcomes for both mother and child. (Check out Evidenced Based Birth for more info on this). We aren't just there to provide you with back rubs, braid your hair or rub your feet (although I'll do all three for you if you want) but we are there with you during this journey. I answer texts and phone calls at 3 am for you, I laugh with you, cry with you, and just hold space for you when you need it. I am your friend, I am your Doula and I truly open my heart up for you. I will help provide you with the tools, information and support so that you can take hold of your own health care and make the decisions that are best suited for you. I spend hours researching for you, I will happily come and be with you after the birth of your baby to let you rest, help with breastfeeding and just help you work through and process the birth if that is what you need.
Ultimately, if you've been considering hiring a Doula or want to know more about what we do, please send me a message. I would love to answer any questions you have about what a Doula does. Everyone deserves a Doula, I truly 100% believe this.
If you've made it to the end of this post, thanks for staying with me! I hope you have learned a little bit more about what a Doula does.
I will be posting a weekly blog on Doula related materials, so if you have any suggestions or things you would like to know more about please email me, or send me a message on my social media platforms (Instagram or Facebook).