3 Ways Your Mom (or Best Friend) Is Not The Same As A Doula
We all have a different “vision” for our birth. Some picture it small and intimate, with just the partner and minimal care providers present. Some imagine the chatter of loved ones, children, friends and others who can surround them with support.
A doula has a special role in birth. And while your best friend from college, your sister, or your mom may comfort you while birthing, they serve a very different role than a doula.
Just as a doula doesn’t replace but rather supports the birthing woman’s partner, a doula doesn’t replace your friend and a friend can’t quite serve in the way a doula can.
Here are three ways that your mom (or best friend) is not the same as a doula.
Your doula has no emotional stake in your birth choices-
Your doula is there to support whatever you want, not push for her agenda. In fact, she specifically is dedicated to YOUR agenda. You may not even know what your doula is thinking if she is doing her job well.
A trained doula is taught to be non-judgemental and to simply support your decisions from cesarean birth to epidural birth to home birth, she isn’t there to offer opinion or give you advice. She is just there to support.
Just supporting can be a really difficult task for a friend or family member. Anyone who cares strongly about any subject knows that it is much easier to accept difference of opinion from regular folks than it is from someone you are close to.
It is not uncommon for a mother or other close person to push for a birthing woman to experience birth the way they did- whether that be cesarean or natural. Because birth is so emotional, we often find self acceptance when others make the same choices or have the same experience we do.
You can rest assured that your doula is there for you. That is what she is paid for and that is what she does.
Your doula is well trained to assist you in labor-
A good friend or relative or partner can serve an incredible role at a birth by helping a birthing woman feel safe. There is however much learned in a good doula training that a loved one may have no idea about.
A fabulous doula training is taught by experienced doula trainers. It will cover assisting in a variety of types of births and birth places. It will extensively cover comfort techniques, even complicated ones.
They will know how to employ a peanut ball, how to do basic (or advanced) rebozo techniques, what move is correct for an asynclitic baby and more.
A great doula has done more than just read a book to prepare her for your birth- she has studied, trained, and some have lots of experience that can help them be useful no matter the curveballs that are sometimes thrown during the birth process.
Labor is normal for a doula-
A woman in labor can do a wide variety of things that can appear odd or even scary to those uncomfortable or inexperienced in birth. Birthing women sometimes cry, vomit, poop, howl and even sing. There isn’t really a “right” way to labor and birth. We all do it in our own unique way.
A doula knows this. If she sees you in transition labor acting very different than you normally do, she recognizes this as good progress. She does not view your behavior as suffering but as a normal and positive part of the birth process.
This normality and ability to take an emotional “step back” from birth can be so much harder for a family member. A mother may worry that her daughter is suffering and may want to ease that suffering using readily available pain killers. A best friend knows what worked for her in labor, but may not realize that that technique doesn’t work for everyone.
The emotional distance that a doula has can actually be a very good thing. They can step back from the situation and see it for what it is rather than have it clouded by history or relationship. It also helps them view the events of labor as normal rather than frightening.
Sometimes having close loved ones at the birth is a must for a birthing woman. Mothers, sisters, partners, best friends, family, and others can play precious and important roles at the birth.
Because they have a lifelong connection to the birthing family, they can share in future events like birthdays, graduation parties, and more, to which a doula would not be privy. There are few things more special for a loved one to be able to say than, “I remember when you were born!” as an always loved child grows.
Women have probably supported one another in birth for millennia, and having women with us who help us feel safe and powerful is just common sense. The doula profession, however, is still in its infancy, and it can be difficult to tease out the difference between having a professional doula or a best friend attend your birth.
A professional doula does serve a slightly different role than a good friend- in fact their role as a professional labor support is unique and wonderful. Just like nobody can replace your mom or your partner, nobody can quite replace the doula and her unique skills.
Be sure to ask her about how she views her role as you interview your doula.
As you plan for your birth think about who you really want there and what they bring to the table. Those that say that there is no neutral ground in birth are right- everyone present is either on your team or not helpful. An amazing doula is someone who will always be on your team.