What is a Doula? - Baby Steps in High Heels

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What is a Doula?

This is a question I’ve been getting quite a bit lately. The official definition is somewhat lengthy, but it can be summed up into the following explanation …

“…A birth doula provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support before, during, and just after birth…” – (for more info, go to www.dona.org)

Brian’s definition is … “somebody who makes sure I don’t yell at him too much and can also get him a cheeseburger if labor lasts too long …”

I was initially thrown by the concept of a doula. My reaction was probably fairly similar to many of yours. I was thinking that this would only be necessary for people who are really into the touchy-feely-emotional birth experiences, you know –home births, water births, etc. And, we all know that that is not part of my birth plan! I will be in a hospital, with fluorescent lights and loud, beeping monitors … and drugs. Lots of drugs.

So, where does a doula fit into my experience? The more I researched, the more I learned. The true purpose of a doula is to make the mother as comfortable and informed as possible. She is a neutral third-party, and her entire responsibility is me! Who wouldn’t love that, right?! This is appealing on many levels. Consider how many shift changes the OB nurses might make during a long delivery or how many other patients they will also be attending. My doula will be able to explain things to me in further detail when a nurse runs out the door to see another patient. My doula will also help me with different relaxation techniques (breathing, massage, etc.), which is important given my lack of patience and propensity to overreact. I also just learned that getting an epidural too early can actually slow labor, so the relaxation techniques will help me get through some of the early labor process until I threaten to kill somebody if they don’t stick that big needle in my spine and make the pain go away!

And—Yes, Brian, I have it on good authority that the doula can also make a food run if your tummy starts growling. She is apparently there to provide support to the father, too.

If you’re pregnant and interested in learning more about the doulas we interviewed and/or the one we selected, let me know!

1 comment:

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