Updated: Oct 15
September 7, 2018
Although I always felt doulas had an important role to fulfill, after the birth of my daughter, I fully recognized the value that doulas bring to a birth team. I had planned a midwife attended birth in a birth centre with only my husband and myself present with the midwives. After all, who needs a doula when you have a midwife? We wound up having a hospital transfer where we sought the advice of the on-call obstetrician and the medical support of the NICU team. There were far more people present than I anticipated and I really wished I had considered my birth preferences in the event of a hospital transfer. As a result, I felt a loss following our birth because my husband, although supportive, really didn't know how to advocate for me and my midwives didn't really know what my actual birth preferences were under the circumstances of a hospital birth because we had not discussed them ahead of time. After so much loss in our fertility journey, the unanticipated change of venue and careproviders present was not a welcome birth experience. I strongly felt that the emotional support, birth preferences questions, hospital transfer discussion, and personal needs that doulas help you to identify would have been particularly beneficial for our family during this time of transition.
Partners can benefit from the support that doulas provide also. During pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period our partners have several roles to fulfill. Partners are expected to be experts on how best to support, protect and nurture birth givers, their families, and themselves on this amazing journey. But... many partners have never had any experience with pregnancy, birth, the postpartum period, or what to do when plans don't go expectedly. Doulas can help partners navigate the unknown on the birthing journey so that the partners can advocate for the birth giver and their new baby. Ensuring partners are confident supporting their loved ones in navigating the decisions they are faced with, is an essential part of the support that doulas provide. Doulas can never replace the love and relationship that partners have with their birth giving loved ones, but they can help to navigate the path of birth for both of you. For these reasons, doulas are an essential part of your birth team.
Doulas help you to prepare for the unexpected and cope with the emotional roller coaster that sometimes follows any pregnancy, birth or postpartum period. The role of a doula is unlike the role of any other healthcare provider supporting you throughout the childbearing year. While midwives ensure the safety and well-being of birth givers, birth doulas can help you identify the fears or concerns you may have about pregnancy, labour, birth, parenting, breastfeeding, and the postpartum period. They can also help you to adjust when unexpected events occur during the birthing process. Loss doulas support you when you experience miscarriage, stillbirth, or infertility. They can help you to discover ways in which your family can honour their grieving process on this difficult journey, while accessing the resources available within the healthcare system.
Most doulas help you and your partner evaluate the benefits, risks, and alternatives of any decision you are faced with throughout the childbearing year without judgement so that you can make the best choice for your family. Furthermore, doulas can help you to recognize your own emotional, physical or informational needs, provide resources and refer you to other healthcare professionals when your needs are outside of the doula scope of practice. One of the biggest benefits that doulas provide is allowing you to adjust, adapt, and acknowledge when your expected birth outcomes change. In this way, doulas help you cope with the realities of any birthing experience and ensure you have the support you need when both unexpected or desired circumstances occur.
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