What is the purpose of a doula?
Many people have never heard the word “doula” until they find themselves pregnant. Then they enter the strange and exciting world of preparation leading up to childbirth and parenthood. It can be an intimidating place with its own vocabulary!
Many birth prep lists recommend that you hire a doula for your birth. But why? What is the purpose of a doula?
Birth Boot Camp doulas are trained to focus on emotional, relational, and physical support for the mother and her partner, during pregnancy, labor, and birth. Our doulas won’t tell you what to do for your birth. They seek to help you have your best birth.
-The purpose of your doula is to help facilitate your best birth-
How does a doula do this? A trained doula brings skills to your birth that help her do this. Even if she is fairly new, a well trained doula has learned birth and doula wisdom from other doulas before her. She brings these skills to help you achieve your best birth. From communication to comfort measures, she is there to help you cope with birth with confidence and calm.
-The purpose of your doula is to help connect you with local resources-
It can’t be overestimated how powerful the inside knowledge that a doula has is to your birth and pregnancy experience. An experienced doula will have attended births with a variety of care providers and in a variety of birth places. They know what happens and how women are treated. Your doula can answer your questions about everything from hospitals to finding a great lactation consultant to finding a great childbirth class.
-The purpose of a doula is to provide relational support-
Relational support? What is that? A great doula is like a best friend for your birth. She knows what you want. She listens without judgment. She supports you wholeheartedly. She will take the time, in your two prenatal visits, to really get to know you and your specific needs, wants, fears, and expectations for YOUR birth. She truly forms a relationship with you and your partner so that when you are in labor and you call her, she enters seamlessly and brings out your best.
-The purpose of a doula is to support the couple-
When a doula is supporting a birthing mom and her partner, she helps BOTH of them reach their potential. Sometimes people don’t want to hire a doula for fear that she will replace or push aside the birthing woman’s partner. A good doula never does this. Rather, she supports them, lifts them, and helps them shine. After the birth, both the birthing mother and her partner will rave about a great doula.
-The purpose of a doula is to help you remember-
A great doula knows what you are planning for your birth and she will do her best to help you achieve it. Even the most prepared couple who has taken a good childbirth class and has practiced relaxation throughout their pregnancy, will sometimes forget the things they have learned in the heat of labor.
Your doula helps you remember what you learned in your childbirth class and what you decided as a couple was best for you.
-The purpose of a doula is to act as a facilitator-
A facilitator is someone who unobtrusively helps bring about an outcome through gentle guidance. Your doula, who is now your best friend for your birth, knows what you want. But she does not fight for you or argue with the staff. She facilitates. Her very presence can help remind you what you wanted and give you the strength to remember to ask for it.
-The purpose of a doula is to help you build your own village-
Some doulas are also trained in other fields like childbirth education, lactation, and the like. Those who aren’t help you find great childbirth education, lactation help, and more. Your doula could spend your two prenatal visits doing an information dump on you so that you know everything to know about birth. But that would make it very hard for her to become your best friend for your birth, So she will refer. She will refer you to a great childbirth educator, lactation consultant, counselor, pediatrician, chiropractor, or whatever it is that you need to have your best birth.
There is a lot a doula can help you do. There are a few things that are not the purpose of a doula too.
A doula cannot advocate for you. Rather, her belief in your strength helps you advocate for yourself.
A doula cannot guarantee a perfect birth. Rather, her presence smooths the rough edges, reassures you, and helps you cope better no matter how your birth goes.
What is the purpose of a doula? There are obviously many facets to this, but basically, the purpose of a doula is to help you have your best birth.