You don’t really know what a Doula is.

You don’t REALLY know what a Doula is.

Sorry to break it to you, but you probably don’t REALLY know what a Doula is if you’ve never hired one before. When I sit down at a birth consultation with a couple who is new to the doula world I always ask a simple question, “Do you know what a Doula is?“.  When mom solely follows me on social media and set up the appointment I will specifically ask Dad this question. I get just a few different answers.

Some people have NO CLUE what a Doula is.

The first answer I get is, “no”. I’m positive most have an idea but are nervous they’ll get it wrong; saying “no” feels easier. Of course I realize some people honestly don’t know.  A few times husbands have admitted to me they had never even heard the word “Doula” until their wives said, “We are going to meet a Doula tonight”.  I am NEVER offended by someone not knowing the specifics of my job, because I’m aware it isn’t a common career choice.  Personally I hadn’t even heard the word Doula until I was 25 years old and had already been through a pregnancy and loss.  Therefore if you answer no there is absolutely zero judgement and I’m happy you’ve taken the first step to learn what a doula is.

Other people THINK they know what a Doula is.

The second most common answer I get is, “A Doula supports a mom during labor”.  That answer isn’t wrong, but it also isn’t 100% accurate.  If you think what a Doula does can be summed up in 7 words you’re on the wrong track. You are also off base if you think a doula only serves mom and only serves her during labor.  Some other misconceptions about Doulas is we only support women through unmedicated vaginal births, home births, water births and births in the woods banging drums.  However, the misunderstanding that bothers me the most is that Doulas take the place of Dad or only work with moms who don’t have a supportive partner.  If you believed any of these things then you don’t REALLY know what a doula is.

You’ll know when it hits you.

Now you are probably asking yourself what IS a Doula then?  The truth is nobody knows the full reach of a Doula until they’ve been served by one.  The part I can tell you is a Doula serves both mom and her partner, works in ANY birthing environment and supports moms in any type of birth plan (even cesareans).  It’s easy to explain that a Doula can provide prenatal & postpartum support and not only labor support.  I can insist that a Doula never takes the place of Dad, but there are some aspects of Doula care I can’t demonstrate with words.  You’ll know when it  hits you though.

When you really know what a doula is you’ll understand.

Home Birth with Doula in Bowling Green, KY
The Thompsons benefited from having 2 doulas at their home birth in Bowling Green, KY.

You’ll understand Doulas are experienced guides easing worry with simple words of wisdom and believers who make you feel unstoppable.  Doulas are advocates who will never make you feel pressured and never push their own agendas.  They will be the needed professional to look to when information doesn’t make sense, pressure mounts and communication breaks down.  Doulas hold hands, wipe brows, massage feet, squeeze hips, relieve backaches, spoon feed and help maintain hydration.

Keeping partners close they make sure love is flowing between you both from start to finish.  We remind Dads that everything is ok and their confidence in Mama is the best comfort.

Also, we assist in forming a birth plan and advise in execution.  Doulas will give pep talks and teach husbands how to do comfort measures for labor. Keeping partners close they make sure love is flowing between between the couple from start to finish.  We remind Dads that everything is ok and their confidence in Mama is the best comfort. Doulas protect space keeping the energy and mood in a state of respect that allows Mom & Dad to do their best work.

When your birth takes unexpected turns we are there after the smoke settles to aide in processing your experience, wiping your tears and listening to your thoughts without judgement.

We hold experiences in confidence deep in our hearts and shoulder other’s pain. Somehow we see each mom as extraordinary even though we’ve seen this dance 100 times. Time after time we are in awe of each Mom’s power and strength despite knowing it was in her all along. We never tire of witnessing Men transform to Dad’s and watching the couples develop a stronger bond and somehow cultivate an even deeper love through the birthing process.  Doulas cry with you, celebrate with you and look you in the eyes just to say, “You are doing an amazing job”.  When your birth takes unexpected turns we are there after the smoke settles to aide in processing your experience, wiping your tears and listening to your thoughts without judgement.  When you are home with a new postpartum body, milk filled breasts and a newborn to care for we are friends there to listen to your rough honest feelings.

Doulas are so much more.

Glasgow, Ky Cesarean birth at TJ Samson Community Hospital
The Riddles birthing in Glasgow, Ky felt the love of a Doula through their photographer.

Doulas are more than I could ever express in my own words as we are chameleons shifting to fit each families individual needs. What was your Doula to you?  If you have been served by a Doula how do you explain to others the benefits of a doula?  What myths have you heard about Doulas or what do you think is most misunderstood about Doulas?

Birth photography provided by Samantha Steen Photography – Belly, Birth, Baby and Beyond.

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