While woman-to-woman maternity support has been around ever since women have been having babies (well, technically, Eve was on her own), doulas are relatively new. In fact, the first US professional organization for doulas (DONA, or Doulas of North America; now called DONA International) only started in 1992. This leaves many women wondering, "If I have a labor support partner and a nurse during labor, do I really need doula?" The answer: Maybe.
The point of having a doula is to provide encouragement and support to new moms throughout pregnancy and birth; postpartum doulas even help with breastfeeding, housework, and cooking. Her role is to promote healing and bonding with the new baby — basically, whatever you need! Sounds nice, right?
Research seems to think so, too. Studies indicate that when doulas are involved in the labor process, women have fewer C-sections and report greater satisfaction with their birth experiences.
Doulas understand labor and birth from both the physiologic and emotional angles, and they know how hospitals work. They're gifted at helping women overcome really challenging contractions and labor transitions. They understand medical language and routine procedures, but they also know how to help mothers work around interventions that don't fall into their birth plans. And when those plans need to change quickly, the really great doulas know how to shift gears and continue providing top-notch support.
Sadly, there are also some challenging doulas. A few have strict personal agendas and confrontational approaches. They start arguments with medical staff over minor issues like taking mom's blood pressure. There are even doulas who have told their clients that under no circumstances would they allow them to have an epidural or C-section.
Plus, reimbursement from insurance providers is unusual. What happens to women who can't afford doulas? They receive support from their labor nurses, midwife or doctor, their partners and the people they've chosen to provide labor support. For many women, that's all they need and they report feeling well cared for.
Side note: There are doulas that are getting started in their career and can offer free services in order to get certified or more experience.
Still, more often than not, doulas are a real asset to the birth experience. Here's how to find the perfect one for you:
1.) Check their credentials.
While DONA International offers certification programs, certifications aren't required to work as a doula. But a certification shows that your doula has passed a test that demonstrates her knowledge and competency. Before deciding on a doula, ask her where she studied, and if she received a certification.
2.) Ask for references.
See whom she has worked with in the past, and actually call them.
3.) Search wisely
Visit doulamatch.net to instantly find doulas, along with their availability, education, certifications, and testimonials. Also check out: BirthTube's Doula Directory and the DONA Doula Directory.
4.) Interview potential doulas — in person!
You're going to be spending a whole lot of time with this person, so you need to make sure your goals are the same, and that your personalities are compatible. If you don't fall in love with the doula you interview, find one that fits your desires and needs.
Have some fun and take the Birth Quiz to get a FREE Labor Cheat Sheet!
I'm not going to lie. I totally stole this from another website (sorry Martha Stewart) because I just realized something...[drumroll please]...
I just realized that WEDDING PLANNERS are totally the same AS DOULAS in the services they provide!
Here is my shameless link, please don't sue me:
9 Signs A Wedding Planner Is Right For You
Wedding planners spend countless hours with you preparing for the biggest day of your life, right? So then why would we not spend as much time preparing and putting together a team of experts for our second biggest day of our lives: Our baby's birth day?!? This is just so mind boggling.
Anyway, let's go over how important these 9 signs that completely relate to doulas and birth!
YOU ENJOY SPENDING TIME TOGETHER."Countless hours will be spent discussing sensitive details such as close family, personal funds, and other intimate topics. Make sure this is someone you are comfortable with and trust. A good rule of thumb is to hire someone you would be friends with, even after your event is over."
Omgosh, this is verbatim what I would say to a client. Is this not somebody you would choose not only for your wedding but for birth as well?
YOUR PLANNER IS OPEN TO YOUR IDEAS AND VENDOR SUGGESTIONS."Most planners have preferred vendors, but they should be willing to hear your suggestions—it is your wedding after all!"
Doulas may not have preferred vendors but we definitely have preferred local resources for you. I spend a lot of time networking with other birth professionals to ensure that you are getting the right people on your team, before, during and after birth. This is so important to establish a good community of support during all stages of becoming a parent. Also, I am completely open to your ideas of how you want your birth to unfold. And who am I to speak badly of any people on your team?
A GOOD PLANNER WILL BE HONEST AND OPEN FROM THE BEGINNING IN REGARDS TO BUDGET."Even if they aren't saying what you want to hear. I truly believe in speaking numbers from the get-go and not sugar-coating the real cost."
I discuss my costs during our initial consultation. No surprises or spooks. Straight up!
YOUR PLANNER IS ORGANIZED."The best planners keep records of details from your initial meetings and continue to bring up these details throughout the process. Your planner schedules and keeps everything organized for you and sends reminders before appointments!"
I cannot speak for all doulas, however, I have a folder for every client I currently keep, with notes, ideas, and agendas of what we will talk about during our next meeting. I bring as many resources with me so that if we have the opportunity, I have them with me. Not to mention my rebozo, just in case we want to try some funky out-of-the-box positions at any given moment!
THE PLANNER YOU CHOSE SHOULD BE ASSERTIVE, PERIOD."You want someone who can represent you in a knowledgeable way and never get pushed around."
Ditto for a doula! Birth bullying is a real thing for patients. A doula can assist by putting the power back into the mother's hand in very strategic ways that respect both you and the practitioner.
YOUR PLANNER SHOULD BE CALM UNDER PRESSURE."If your planner appears stressed out (ever), that is a problem. You (and your guests) will feed off stress, and that is not what we are going for!"
Never should your doula seem afraid or stressed out by your birth experience. If she is, she may be a new doula, of which I hope you were aware of, and she is gathering experience. You desire a positive birth experience and if your doula is not assisting in providing the space to do that, there could be trouble in River City.
ALTHOUGH YOUR PLANNER MAY SEEM LIKE YOUR NEW BFF, HE/SHE MAINTAINS A PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE THROUGHOUT THE PLANNING."Once the wedding is over, you can start planning happy hour dates."
Doulas must maintain their code of ethics and with that comes professionalism that is inherent in your prenatal visits and during your birth. You want to feel comfortable enough with them because, yes they will be a part of a very intimate moment. So much so that they are BFF material but not so much that you would call them during the night about a fight you once had with your spouse.
YOU KNOW YOUR PLANNER IS THE CORRECT FIT IF YOU ARE RELAXED AND ENJOY THE PROCESS."You don't want wedding planning to feel like a stressful whirlwind. Enjoy each meeting. If your planner is doing his or her job, this will be a piece of cake (no pun intended!)."
As a doula, I am not doing my job if you don't leave our visits feeling more empowered, at ease, and excited for baby day!
I hope this article was helpful to you all! Sorry about the length. I found it utterly hilarious how similar wedding planners are to doulas. It is even more shocking that we don't value doulas as strongly as wedding planners. However, the tides are shifting! Doulas everywhere are spreading the good news (not the Gospel guys, lol) about how we can greatly shift the impact on births worldwide! Help us spread the news by sharing this article, share with a friend what a doula is/does. Maybe hire one for your upcoming birth! We are caring people who love to make an impact on the world around us. For us, it starts with birth and we support you every step of the way!
Lastly, sign up for my email newsletter and receive a FREE labor cheat sheet to get you through your next birth!
1) Impatience to end the pregnancy due to discomfort, fatigue and eagerness to hold their baby
2) The possibility of a long, discouraging pre-labor phase.
These challenges make parents more accepting of induction or vulnerable to the belief that there is something wrong. Parents need to understand that labor normally begins only when all of the following occur:
• The fetus is ready to thrive outside the uterus (breathing, suckling, maintaining body temperature, and more).
• The placenta has reached the point where it can no longer sustain the pregnancy.
• The uterus is ready to contract, open and expel the baby.
• The mother is ready to nourish and nurture her baby.
If parents understand that fetal maturity is essential in initiating the chain of events leading to labor, they may be more patient with the discomforts of late pregnancy, and less willing or anxious to induce labor without a medical reason.
Natural induction methods are a viable options to assist and allow for the above criteria to be met and for labor to commence. However, they are not meant to coax the baby out but rather to encourage the process along. I will blog about natural induction methods coming up but for now, please see one delicious way by checking out my Labor Cookies Recipe.
The ways to progress to a vaginal birth
Progress before and during labor and birth occurs in many ways, not simply cervical dilation and descent, which is what most people focus on. Labor unfolds gradually, which begin weeks before labor and involve the cervix. The cervix moves forward, ripens, effaces and then dilates. When parents understand that a long pre- or early labor is accomplishing necessary progress – preparing the cervix to dilate – they are less likely to become anxious or discouraged that nothing seems to be happening. The other steps involve the fetus: the fetal head repositions during labor by flexing, rotating, and moulding to fit into the pelvis; and lastly, the fetus descends and is born.
Possible signs of labor
The most important of these is the first one:
Positive signs of labor
The most important of these is the first one:
Staying positive amidst pre- and early labor is important in the process of delivering your baby. Women progress in many different ways and your journey is your own pathway to forge for you and your baby. The hard work put into the process is well worth it. Just knowing the signs above can and will help in understanding when it is a good time to bring in your birth team, call your midwife, go to the hospital (or stay at home), and move forward in a positive and healthy manner.
Stayed tuned for more progression through labor and delivery, as well as some natural induction methods!