“You don’t need a doula,” said the husband of a former client. “I’ll be there.”
They were discussing the upcoming birth of their second baby, dreaming and planning. She made a note to call the doula in the morning, just to chat.
A birth doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible. Think of a doula like a tour guide who helps families navigate the often unfamiliar territory of birth.
“I won’t be freaked out like last time,” he said. “I know what I’m doing now.”
I got a call from them a few months after that. “Do you do last minute support?”
My response was, “How last minute are we talking?”
“I’m at the hospital and they’re talking about inducing, and I’m freaking out,” she said.
The woman in labor was a previous client. She and her husband had a great experience with me a few years before. This time, her husband said he could support her, and she had faith in his dedication and enthusiasm. Three weeks before their due date, he asked her, “Did you hire the doula?” She went into labor before she could reach out to me.
Some women don’t want any extra assistance in birth. I’ve seen a lot of partners who are fearless about supporting the needs of the laboring mother. As a doula, I would never wish to interfere with the connection between couples. In fact, I strive to help the support person feel confident in his/her ability to be the main support person, if that is what the couple desires.
Doulas definitely have a place in births where the partner is the main support person and where epidurals are the preferred coping strategy; I do not impose external agendas on a family in labor. Contrary to popular belief, doulas are not only for medication-free labors with first babies!
One of my ideals is to help families find their way along the journey of birth, so I wasn’t offended that this previous client and her husband had made a different plan for this birth, even though the plan didn’t include me as their doula.
Thankfully, I was available and ready to jump in when this couple changed their minds and decided they needed a doula’s support. I was able to help the client come to terms with the changes happening in her birth, and she was able to cry and process through what was going on — in a safe way, with a safe person. As they welcomed their new baby, the couple shared that they were filled with joy and relief, rather than the fear and insecurity they were feeling earlier in the day.
Women definitely experience benefits when they hire a doula earlier in pregnancy. However, if you should find that you need help late in pregnancy, or even at the last moment – reach out and see if there’s a doula available.
You can find out more about Jennifer at www.bookamerbirthservices.com. Jennifer has been a doula and childbirth area in the Inland Northwest since 1998, serving more than 600 families in all birth settings.