Q: Aren’t doulas just for people having natural births or delivering at home?
A: No way!
It is a common misconception that doulas only provide care to families who choose to deliver at home or who are planning for an unmedicated birth. While it is certainly true that doulas attend a lot of those types of births, doulas exist to improve birth outcomes and that means attending all types of births.
So, how can a doula serve me in a hospital setting?
Doulas are trained with current, evidence based information that keeps them up to speed on common hospital practices and procedures as well as ACOG* guidelines. A doula can help you navigate the often confusing medical jargon used in the hospital setting and lead you to information that will help you make the best decisions for your family. Doulas are not medical practitioners, however, so your doula should never tell you “yea” or “nay” on any particular intervention, procedure, or medication. She’s there to give you unbiased information and support you in your decisions, whatever they may be. Remember, this is your birth, not your doula’s.
Doulas are also trained to assist in comfort measures such as pain management techniques and positioning, so if you’re waiting to be okayed for an epidural or are at a loss as to how to cope with monitors, your doula is there.
It’s a common thought that, once your epidural is placed, there’s nothing to worry about since the pain is gone, right? As a culture, we commonly forget that, though the pain may be dulled, a mother is still laboring. She may not physically feel any of the sensations of contractions, but many mothers still grapple mentally and emotionally with the labor process especially after they’ve gotten an epidural. The holistic approach of a doula makes her especially qualified to support families in this situation.
Many times mothers who have received an epidural have a hard time during the pushing stage of labor. It’s really difficult to know how/when to push when half of your body is numb! Doulas are there to guide mothers in pushing and to encourage mothers when the going gets tough.
But what if I get a c-section?
You may think that a doula is relatively pointless once a c-section is scheduled, however in certain circumstances (dependent upon the care provider) doulas can be allowed in the operating room with their clients. This practice varies based on geography and hospital policy, but it’s definitely worth exploring, as a doula can be a great support in the operating room. After a baby is delivered via c-section it is common that the father or partner goes to be with the infant while the mother is stitched up. Closing a c-section incision takes around 45 minutes, which can be very hard on a mother. While her partner and baby may eventually be near her, it is incredibly helpful to have a person right by a mother’s side to comfort her, keep her informed, and hold space while the operation is completed.
Doulas are an incredible asset in absolutely any birth scenario, whether medicated or not. In hiring a doula families should feel they’re hiring a person who is dedicated to supporting them and educating them to make the choices that are best for their family.