Wait. What IS a Doula?
“A what? A doula?”
This is the most common question I get at dinner parties, chance meetings, community events, meeting the parents of my child’s friends, etc. etc.
“What do you do?”
“I’m a doula … and a lactation counselor, and I teach. All birthy stuff.”
The worst part is I know that I have the next 6-10 seconds to somehow explain what I do with enough impact to make it memorable, but not take over the conversation. When people ask this a myriad of things go through my mind, because I cannot share the initiate moments of what it is like in that short window. How I’ve celebrated with clients, cried with them, what it’s like to be on call. So I sincerely hope this will help you get a small impression of what a doula does.
First, our technical definition is that of labor support. What does THAT even mean?
We are someone you hire to continually listen to what you want, get to know you, support your partner, and give information. By continually I mean before birth we come to you to discuss your birth and we are available by phone, texts, and emails. Then, we talk to you in early labor, and come to your birth when you need help coping. In the first hours after birth we help create an initiation of breastfeeding and bonding with your child. We follow up with you after birth too. However, since every birth is unique, every client interaction with us is unique.
What else? A doula is a listener.
We want to know to what you want. Not just for birth, or from your medical care provider or location, but also for your relationship with your partner, meeting your baby, your feeding goals, and healing emotionally and physically postpartum.
What do YOU want? A doula is a teammate.
We love to answer pregnancy questions and dispel myths. We want everyone on your birth team to ask questions, and are available for you all of the time. We mean it; we are on call for your birth once you hire us.
So, what QUESTIONS do you have? A doula is a constant.
We come to you before labor to talk about what you want and how to best achieve it; we are there in labor, there are no shift changes with our work; and we follow up with you in your home again after the birth, to talk about how you’re healing and feeling, and to process your birth. All of this we define as physical and mental support.
How do you need SUPPORT? A doula is a teacher.
We know birth, and you know you! We want to share our knowledge of birth and give you the information you need to make the best decision. Your decision. In fact, doula’s have been linked to lowered rates of unwanted interventions. See Evidence Based Birth for more: http://evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas
What INFORMATION do you want?
At the end of the day, my clients can speak volumes more than I can because they had their individual needs met, which is ultimately the number one goal. So come meet us, tell us how you want your experience to be supported.
Gillian Foreman, ProDoula CD, CLC, and Mom Facebook: All Things Birthy & Breastfeedy Co-founder of LastMinuteDoula.com