Doulas Support Women by…
In celebration of International Doula Month, I asked readers to weigh in on what doulas do to support the women they serve. Their responses (found here, on Facebook, and on Twitter) demonstrate just how varied and valuable doula support is for many women.
Before getting to those responses, let me first congratulate contest winner Lyssa, whose entry was chosen at random using random.org. Lyssa writes that doulas support women by “empowering them to have a good birth–whatever that means to the woman.” Precisely!
DOULAS SUPPORT WOMEN BY…
… helping them realize that their bodies are not broken! So many women, especially those cared for in a medical arena, are told (both directly and indirectly) that their bodies will need help to birth their babies, whether it be the women being told that they will probably need a c-section because of their size, to unnecessary inductions, to pitocin augmentation, to having to dilate by the clock. Doulas can empower women by helping them to realize that their bodies were made to birth babies! Even just one positive figure in the birthing room among all the medicalized ones can help the woman realize that yes, she can do this! This kind of support is priceless and empowering.
… just plain being there…sometimes, that is the greatest support of all.
…helping them, allowing them, guiding them to reclaim the power that is stripped away from women in so many tiny, often unrecognizable ways. To realize that only you can birth your child is all at once overwhelming and empowering, and a doula can support a woman in that personal transformation.
…honoring their unique needs throughout the birthing process!
…truly listening, tuning in fully to her and her rhythms. Being fully present in the here and now. What worked for the last woman may not work this time. What does this woman need, now? She may not even realize it herself.
…supporting a woman’s convictions and beliefs about birth and helping her remain true to them in the face of the medical system. She can also be a sounding board for doubts and concerns and a valuable source of information.
…supporting their partners/family. Many times moms know what they need to do and how to do it, doulas can help others involved in the birth have a good/calm/engaged experience while mom and baby are busy doing their thing.
…reminding them to breathe!
…encouraging women to make their own decisions about pregnancy and childbirth and then supporting those choices!
…Doulas can help pregnant women throughout their pregnancies and childbirth in many ways.
- They can provide the pregnant women and their partner information on pregnancy and childbirth.
- They can provide the pregnant women and her partner with emotional support during their pregnancy and childbirth.
- They help the pregnant women plan their childbirth on how they want it to be.
- They also stay with you throughout your childbirth providing both parents emotional support and pain relief throughout different positions and massages for the women.
-Helping them to inform themselves about their birth options
-Supporting them and their choices
-Physically and emotionally supporting them (and their partner!)during labor
-Encouraging them throughout labor and birth, and reminding them that they are strong, beautiful and intelligent
-learning about a woman’s priorities for her prenatal care and birth and providing recommendations for providers and facilities whose care practices are consistent with those desires;
-massaging them before, during, and after labor; and
-watching for warning signs of postpartum depression.
…staying with them in the OR while her partner stays with the baby. I didn’t have a doula for my c-section. I wish I had.
…protecting the experience. Its not always about avoiding unnecessary intervention, but helping to cope with the reality of necessary interventions. A doula’s only goal may end up being to ensure a woman never feels alone or terrified. A doula can support women by supporting their partners. Letting the medical staff do their job, letting daddy cope how he needs to, but never letting the Mama feel lost.
…offering sips of water between contractions, by placing a cold cloth on her forehead or neck while she’s pushing, by getting her some lip balm after all that mouth breathing, by staying with her while her newborn preemie twins & husband have to go to the NICU, and by telling her that her mom is watching over her & would be so proud of her. I <3 my doula!
…being there, being a guide through labor, being a rock, a strong and steady presence during her hours of need.
…providing nonjudgmental informational support and unconditional emotional support!
…helping them to articulate what they’re experiencing and what they need.
…helping them trust their bodies’ birthing intelligence.
…truly LISTENING to what they’re saying, verbally and non-verbally!
…helping them believe that they can do something that seems impossible: give birth. I will most definitely be using a doula when I give birth next time!
…going to the grocery store for them when they just got put on bedrest, are quite upset about it, have a craving for chocolate and cheetos, and have neither in the house.
…empowering them to have a good birth–whatever that means to the woman.
…supporting the whole birthing family! Helping them to identify resources in their community; introducing them to literature, websites, and events that can educate or empower; listening to their concerns and needs in a non-judgmental manner.
…being knowledgeable about the resources in the community that families may need!
…educating them about all of their birth options, helping them figure out how to prepare their ideal births and providing loving support no matter what happens down the road.