As an introvert, I have an aggressively-medium-sized group of mom friends. Most of them are in online mom groups, although I *have* ventured outside of my comfort zone and met some real-life women thanks to having a few extroverted friends 😉 But within these circles of mom friends, there are always the “natural moms”. Not gonna lie – this is where I fall on the spectrum of “types of moms”. And it’s a curious thing… They have all either had a doula for their birthing experiences or at the very least, heard of a doula. But I feel like the common idea of what and who a doula is among the natural moms has been muddied a bit for everyone else. The role of a doula has been put into a box of very specific rules – Only women who have natural births need doulas. This is simply not true!
This putting-into-a-box causes “outsiders” of the natural mom world to only wonder and imagine what the allusive role of a doula is exactly. Rumors such as: “She probably only attends home births”, “She has a distrust of nurses and doctors and think they don’t know anything”, “I heard she sits outside hospital rooms to make sure the doctors don’t even have a chance to intervene with drugs!” start to arise and before you know it, we have yet another layer added to the Mommy Wars. And we don’t need that!
I just want to lay out what a doula is and maybe remove some of the mystery and lies that surround this honorable and ancient role!
1.We are supporters of women.
It’s wonderful to see the bright excitement in the face of a first-time mom as she states that she is planning to have a natural birth! I will not be the one to whip out horror stories of drug-free births gone wrong. Because I’ve experienced and heard many positive stories. I will support her as she labors without an epidural.
It is equally wonderful to look into the eyes of a third-time mom who has had traumatic birth experiences and wants an epidural so she can enjoy the birthing process as much as she can. And again, I will not be the one to slam her down with studies that show epidurals cause who-knows-what. Because I know women who have had peaceful and healing birth experiences with epidurals!
I support both of these women!
Regardless of how you decide that you want to labor and give birth, as a doula, I support you. I will be there to hold your hand, speak positive affirmations, bring you water, breathe in time with you and bring out all the comfort measures that I know! But most importantly, if your birth takes a turn none of us could’ve seen coming and you need to ditch the birth plan, I’ll make sure you know that you made the right choices for your baby. I am here and I support YOU!
2. We are supporters of families.
My role does not replace the role of your partner. There is a special kind of support that only your partner can provide – I have no interest in pushing him aside and wearing shoes that are not mine to fill. But I can support him in supporting you! Dads don’t enjoy seeing the mother of their child in pain, screaming, yelling (sometimes, cussing) – it’s a side of us women that is not often seen. Having a doula there, helps keep a calm atmosphere and reinforces in everyone’s minds that what is happening is normal and OK! Sometimes, my support-role looks different from partner to partner. One dad may want to be the one right.there. because he’s been to every. single. appointment and has taken ALL of the classes and watched ALL of the documentaries – you know the type 🙂 I’ll support him by bringing him food and water so he can be on his A-game! Another partner may be completely clueless and meandering aimlessly, looking for some way to be useful. I’ll coach him in what to do – so we can take turns applying counter pressure and breathing with mom. No matter what the type of partner involved, I’m there to make their experience a positive one as well!
3. We are supporters of the medical community.
Here’s the one that is the most surrounded in myth and urban legend. Ready? We are NOT anti-doctor! I do not have a medical degree. As far as training goes, I know how the female body works, how birth happens and medical terms surrounding these things – but my expertise is in support, not medical advice. If you want to ask your doctor questions, you are free to do so! And I will facilitate an atmosphere of open and honest communication so you can ask questions and weigh your options – but if you are looking at me to step between you and your doctor and make the medical decisions, that is beyond my expertise and frankly, outside of my contract! I want you to have an understanding and level of trust between your care provider. And if I am undermining that, it brings an uneasiness and ultimately, makes you feel like I am judging you for your choices in birth!
In a nutshell, a doula is simply a woman who stands/sits/squats with you and supports you and the other members of your birth team to make your birth experience a positive one! There are no “rules” about what kind of birth you have to have – it’s all about having non-judgmental support!
So, a doula… Who needs ’em?
We all do.