I have been a birth and postnatal doula – as well as a mother to two daughters and a foreign languages teacher - for the past five years and often get asked similar questions about what the role involves!
Here are two more common questions that I love to answer!
I will have my partner with me at my birth and he/she is eager to participate in the birth and support me. Isn’t this enough?
I love this question and feel it is one of the things that is most misunderstood about us birth doulas. Never, ever, in no way or form are we there to replace or devalue your partner’s special place by your side! Your partner’s loving presence and the way you feel around him/her is super important to help you birth your baby as you release that wonderful love hormone, oxytocin.
However, your partner may never have seen birth before and just like you, may be unsure of what to expect and how they will manage. If your partner is a bundle of nerves or anxious at the fact of seeing you going through such intense sensations and not being able to do anything to make them stop or if they are squeamish or uneasy in a hospital setting… then this will also rub off on you.
At the majority of the births I have attended (nearing 40!), I would say the partner has been just as relieved as the mother, if not more so, to have me on board! Having a birth doula on your team takes a huge pressure off the partner’s shoulders! They no longer need to be the birth expert and the only support person. Instead, they can focus on being the loving presence the mother needs, can take time out if they need to, find a role and a space they are comfortable with safe in the knowledge that there will always be someone close to the mother.
In our antenatal sessions, we chat about how we will work as a team of three – or more! – and we explore how both of you feel about the different phases of birth. We get to know each other and break things down so that you know which options you have where and what might help at different points. And on the big day, we take things as they come and we roll with it, as a team.
There are few things I love more about my role than seeing the absolute pride, admiration and love between a couple as they meet their new baby. As I step back and busy myself with making sure you both have everything you need to be comfortable and snuggle down with your baby, I witness the birth of a new family and feel so honoured to be there. And as I leave, when everyone is settled and baby and mother are resting, the hugs and the gratitude, the smiles and the tears I often receive from the partner assure me that yes, this partner felt respected, needed and comfortable too.
Aren’t doulas only for women who want a natural, non-medicated birth?
In a nutshell, no, absolutely not!!!
Doulas are there for every woman in all scenarios. Our role is to ensure that you have the information you need to make your choices and then to support you and your partner in those choices.
I have been present at hospital births and home births, water births and caesarean births, have held the hands of women and breathed with them as they have an epidural put in place or as they manage their surges with no medication.
I come with no judgement or ulterior motives! The birth doula’s only wish is for you to feel safe, respected and listened to throughout your birth and we will do what it takes for you to feel that way.
Did this help?! Let me know what other questions you have about birth doulas and I'll be more than happy to answer them!
And keep your eyes peeled for the next blog post that will be about postnatal doula support!