A Birth Doula can add an element of support to a family’s birth story that may otherwise be missing. It is the reliable, continuous, unconditional, unbiased support from a professionally trained individual who has the experience to hold space regardless of the way birth unfolds. This support is physical, emotional, social, and informational, and is given to the birthing person AND their birthing partner(s), meeting them where they are with what they need in the moment. Families who learn about and seek out Birth Doula support often find that no matter what birth they planned for or experienced, they were honored each step of the way.
As advocates for informed choice, a doula will strive to see that their client has all the information they need to make a decision, including benefits, risks, and alternatives. A doula will encourage their client to tap into their intuition or ask for more time if it is safe before deciding about any of the multitude of choices they may be faced with during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. While they never speak for their clients, a doula helps set the environment for their client to advocate for themselves, and is there to listen to and support whatever feelings and emotions arise for the family along the way. It is often said that years later, when thinking about their births, it doesn’t matter as much to families what exactly happened each minute, but how they were treated and felt during the entire process. These precious times of transition may greatly affect self esteem, parenting, and child development, because just as a child is born, so are their parents.
A doula is there to help maintain a safe place for birth to unfold and to help protect the creation of the birth story each time a family welcomes a new baby. Physically, the doula can offer techniques that can aid in comfort to the birthing person and their birthing partner(s). This includes breathing, positions to labor in, soothing touch when appropriate, nourishment, rest, hydrotherapy, and movement. The birthing environment is also an important focus to the doula, who is watching for how the mood changes with the people present, the sounds, the lights, and the smells. A doula can help shape the optimal birthing environment for their client to feel completely comfortable in when surrendering to the process of birth. These physical needs may change with transitions in labor, or moment by moment, and the doula is there to watch for the subtle or obvious shifts that occur with the birthing person, their partner(s) or other members of the birthing team. The doula knows that each client is different, and is able to recognize the needs and desires of each birthing family without comparing them to others before or after.
As per the DONA code of ethics, a doula is a member of the birth team, and is responsible for maintaining their professional relationship with other care providers and doulas while always first upholding their client’s rights, interests, and confidentiality. Written in the DONA Standards of Practice, a doula is a non-medical professional who does not diagnose, prescribe, or treat nor perform clinical tasks. Although a doula may be trained in other professions, they are to maintain their doula scope of practice while acting as a doula and must provide appropriate and prompt referrals to other professionals who can provide services that are out of scope. When a doula is unable to take on or maintain support for a client, it is the doulas responsibility to refer them to another doula that may provide the care they need.
All of the qualities, skills, and practices of a Birth Doula culminate in a trained professional who provides quality, individualized care to families who request to have the psycho-social support the need and desire. This support is not a luxury but a right, and most Doulas are called into the work by an understanding that everyone has the right to an empowering birth story. Please be in touch if you would like to find out more about my special brand of Doula support!