Hey! My name is Meagan and I’m a Doula...to be more specific...I’m a fertility, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, loss, and if you ask other women, I’m a life doula. Yep, that’s right, a Doula of all things.
What does that mean!?!
Everyone always starts out by saying that a Doula is a support person, a labor coach, blah blah blah - you know all of the things, I’m sure you’ve already heard. But what if you haven’t, what if you’re one of the many who don’t know what a Doula is, what a Doula does, or how important a Doula is when it comes to your pregnancy journey? What if you’re one of the many people who’ve just felt like another patient during your pregnancy who is “just pregnant and everything you’re experiencing is normal”? This is where a Doula comes in. There are Doulas of many kinds. Today we will focus on the “birth doula” and all of our magic! Haha! - no but for real.
Why do I need a Doula when I have my husband and our entire family?
Why do we need trainers to help us prepare and train for a marathon? Everyone who does something hard has their family or close friends to root them on. It’s a totally different headspace when birthing your child. When a Doula becomes part of the birthing team, the game changes and it’s time to prepare you for the greatest - hardest marathon you’ll ever run....pregnancy, labor, and birth.
Your Doula may help you select a pregnancy care provider that fits well with you and your plan; if you aren’t comfortable with your doctor or midwife, your doula can make suggestions for a different provider. When you have questions or concerns after appointments or about how you may be feeling, your Doula is there to guide you. We help with any doubt during this time, creating your birth preferences, preparing your mind, body, and home for your new baby. We educate you on situations and possibilities, to regain trust in your body stemming from previous loss, pregnancies, or feeling defeated during labor. We encourage you to feel empowered and to advocate for yourself, overcoming obstacles and breaking down walls that may stand in your way.
One of my favorites is, we go over different scenarios and explain the possibilities and outcomes, which allows you to become aware of your options because
if you don’t know your options....you don’t have any.
Techniques are our thing during labor - Oftentimes you’ll see me rolling into the hospital with my wagon. In it you’ll find my birthing ball and my “bag of tricks”. Everyone is different and some comfort measures work better than others. Guided by you individually, what your needs are, determines what “tricks” are best for you.
But really Doula - what do you do?
Your partners are with us and a handful of family members as you labor, it’s loud in the room and contractions are picking up. Breathing through them is hard because you’re focused on everyone else. Your hubby is rubbing your back through that terrible hospital gown as his way of comforting you and your mom is telling everyone about the day you were born and you - you’re just trying to smile and be pleasant.
Your Doula giggles at your moms cute story but knows you’re not okay and goes back to your birth preferences where it says you’d like dim lighting, your oil diffuser with your balance scent (of course), your hypno birthing soundtrack going, with your bathing suit on while you labor in the warm tub.
Doulas are your right hand and your partner is your left. When your Doula started shifting the environment, your husband followed and now you’re laboring in the tub while your Doula prepares your next laboring experience - high princess on the peanut ball (to help you progress so you can meet your baby) while you relax and drink some hot tea. An hour after your high princess you’re feeling more intensity and your nurse comes in to check you (you consented...right? Of course your Doula explained the importance of informed consent) anyway guess what...it’s time to meet your baby. Your doula is at your right leg and your partner is at your left and within about 30 minutes, you’re holding your baby and you’re on minute 2 of delayed cord clamping!!! Yay, the benefits of delayed cord clamping are friggin awesome! Why not give your baby back the blood that’s been circulating through the placenta?!
This is a pretty smooth birth, birth preferences all the way.
What if I need a cesarean section?
Besides that having a doula drastically reduces your chances of an emergency cesarean - we are there for you during the unforeseen.
When you’ve labored for over 12 hours and you’ve lost hope in yourself. When your induction has slowed and you aren’t progressing and you’re on your way to an unplanned cesarean? What about if you and baby aren’t doing well and next thing you know you’re in an emergency cesarean. Or what if you just simply decided to schedule a cesarean? Doulas are there for you during all of this too and you know what - We are helpful during medicated births, emergency scenarios, and smooth sailing vaginal deliveries.
Here are a few good reasons to have a doula…
- Communicating about what’s going on step by step
- Comforting you and your partner during the prep time
- Reminding you that you can ask for alternatives
- And the recovery process
Even if you just need a little help - that’s what your Doula is there for.
Now that you’ve learned what a Doula does, it’s time to improve your pregnancy journey. Hiring a Doula will be one of the things along the way that you won’t forget. Shorter labors, less interventions, decrease in the use of pain meds, decreased cesarean rate, postpartum depression risks decreased, and a happier birth story - are a few of the pros of hiring a Doula.
Learn more at Evidence Based Birth
Every mama deserves a rock solid “trainer” and to feel empowered to make it to the finish line regardless of the obstacles. We are your magical unicorn.
We aren’t here to put your cape on you, we are here to remind you that you’ve had your cape all along!
Have you hired your doula yet?!
Contributed by: Meagan Kennedy - Doula & childbirth educator - Pensacola, FL