It's the number one question I get from friends, family, and pretty much anyone who asks me what it is I do. "What actually is a doula?" Well, I'm glad you asked.
I go through a lot of this information on my website, but the answer is simple: As a birth doula, I provide people who are pregnant with informational, physical, and emotional support throughout their pregnancy, birth and in the immediate postpartum period. But what does that look like?
Honestly, it depends on what my client's goals are, and their needs in the moment. Maybe it's information about induction methods, or options to consider for turning a breech baby, or ways to reduce heartburn. During labor, I might be applying counterpressure to my client's back, or showing their partner how to massage their feet. Sometimes, a client just needs a sounding board - we all know pregnancy isn't always a walk in the park, and if my client needs to vent about it, I'm here for it! Doulas are specially trained to help their clients navigate almost any situation they might encounter during pregnancy and birth. I provide my clients with valuable resources to make decisions and feel good about their choices. We are often the only ones in the birthing space whose sole job is to focus completely on the person giving birth - and evidence shows that having that kind of continuous care statistically results in better birth experiences!
With as much as doulas do for their clients, it's important to remember that there are also things we don't do. Most of these things center around medical needs: we are not medical professionals, and therefore we don't give medical advice or diagnose or treat medical conditions, and we don't perform any medical procedures. We also never speak on our clients' behalf to medical professionals. We love to help you identify your options and learn about their potential risks and benefits, but it's up to you to make decisions and keep your provider informed of your choices. And finally, we would never dream of overshadowing your birth partner. I want your partner to feel comfortable being as involved in the birth as they want to be, so I am there to support them just as much as I support you.
Doulas do what they do because they feel called to it. We work long hours across all times of day; we drop everything in a heartbeat to go to our clients when we're needed; and we're even working during the times we're not physically with clients - researching, learning, and perfecting our skills so that we can give our very best to those who trust us with their care. It is hard work, but it is so fulfilling. We get to see people working hard to bring love into the world. I get to witness miracles at my job. What could be better than that?