Getting ready to have your baby is a time when many expectant moms experience a wide variety of emotions, including a combination of excitement, anticipation and fear. While you are looking forward to holding your new little one, you may also be nervous about the thoughts of delivery. Many expectant moms alleviate these fears by choosing to hire a doula to help them during labor and delivery.
What is a Doula?
“Doula” is a Greek word that translates to “women’s helper.” Before it was common to have babies in hospitals, women relied on the help of other women during labor and delivery. A doula receives special training to assist you during labor. However, they do not replace your doctor or midwife.
A doula can help you make a birth plan before delivery, talk about your fears and concerns and help you manage your pain during labor with different techniques. After your new little one enters the world, a doula can help you learn how to care for your baby, assist you in getting much-needed rest and help the rest of the family transition to life with a new baby in the home.
Differences Between a Doula and a Midwife
Midwives are health care providers who are certified to provide prenatal care during pregnancy, deliver babies and provide postnatal care for you and your baby. Doulas do not provide medical care and are not to replace your doctor or midwife. Doulas are often referred to as birth coaches or labor assistants that will help you and be your companion during labor and delivery.
Benefits of Having a Doula
Having a doula can help you before, during and after your new little one is born. Doulas provide:
- Emotional support during pregnancy
- Assistance in making a birth plan
- Reassurance by answering questions about labor, delivery and childcare
- Provide pain relief during labor with a massage, breathing techniques, relaxation techniques and varying birthing positions
- Assistance in carrying out your birth plan during labor and helping you convey your feelings to the nurses and doctors
- Help for your partner by giving reassurance, answering questions and instructing in coaching techniques
- Breastfeeding assistance
- Help you heal by encouraging rest and self-care
- Offer guidance in transitioning your new baby home
- Help the family adjust to having a new baby
- Teach you and your partner how to care for a newborn
Who Should Hire a Doula?
Though many experts recommend doulas for expecting moms who want to have a “natural” delivery without any medical drugs for pain, they can help any expectant mother no matter the type of delivery they are having. After your baby is born, your doula can help you to recover quicker and adjust to taking care of your new baby and family.
Breastfeeding can provide its own set of challenges. A doula can help you to latch your baby on properly, determine if your little one is getting enough milk and relieve sore nipples through natural remedies. Because many moms go back to work after their baby is born, your doula can help you establish your milk supply and stockpile breastmilk for the future with a breast pump. Most insurance providers will cover a breast pump at no cost to you.
How Do I Find a Doula?
There are a variety of networks that can match you with a doula, or you can find a doula through a recommendation from a friend or family member. You will be in close contact with your doula (normally via the phone) during pregnancy to help plan your labor and delivery. Because the doula is someone who will be present during labor, it’s important that you feel comfortable with him or her. Take the time to talk with and get to know your doula before hiring the best one for you and your partner.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed at the thought of bringing a new life into the world. A doula can help to calm your fears, allowing you to have the birth experience you desire while helping your family care for your new little baby. If you are feeling fearful about birth, talk with your doctor about your fears and consider hiring a doula to make the transition easier.