You’ve no doubt come across the word “doula” while researching birth options, and perhaps you’ve wondered just what is a doula, and how can she help you?
What Is A Doula?
Doula comes from the Greek word for “woman servant”. A doula is someone, usually a female, who attends to the pregnant mom during labor. She is useful for a variety of reasons, from being your biggest advocate, to help keep things under control, and being a wonderful supporter. A doula can run hundreds of dollars if you go through a private business. However, some hospitals and natural student schools offer doulas for around $100-$150. If you are able to find one for that price and are pregnant, I highly recommend splurging for one as you could really use the support in one of your most challenging endeavors in life!
First, you’ll meet with your doula a few times before the actual birth to create a birth plan together and get to know one another. A birth plan serves as your “voice” during labor. You can sit down with your partner, or with a loved one if you are single, and discuss how you’d like the labor to go. Do you want to avoid drugs if possible? Do you want a home birth? Do you want to breastfeed your baby directly after giving birth? All of this will go in your birth plan and your doula will help you create that, using your best wishes and intentions.
As soon as you know you are going into labor, you can give your doula a call and she’ll rush to your side. If you’re giving birth at the hospital, she is a great asset is finding out info from your midwife or doctor on your behalf and advocating your wishes from your birth plan. If you are having a home birth, she can play the part of the “nurturer” while your midwife attends to more of your medical needs.
It’s not uncommon to have a doula massage your belly during contractions or even massage the perenial area to soften the tissues for baby’s head. She’ll work with you in the tub if you want or put on some soft music and recite a meditation to help you relax. Think of a doula as your personal servant, as this is what you are paying her to do. She also is very useful in helping couples focus on the birth and one another, rather than worrying about other factors that she’ll take care of.
After giving birth, your doula will assist you in breastfeeding for the first couple of times. Odds are you’ll be very exhausted after giving birth, and even if you have read all the literature on breastfeeding, you might be too sleepy to do it on your own. Luckily, she is there, assisting you, but not taking over so you can still be the one bonding with your new child! Speaking from personal experience, she was more than worth the $100 I spent! (Some doulas will do after-visits as well.)