Our sweet baby girl entered the world four months ago. I have been getting so many questions about how she is doing, how her birth was, etc. When I tell people our birth story I always mention that we used a doula. That tends to get some weird looks, and I can only imagine they are thinking, “A what?” or “Couldn’t your husband hack it?”. I’d like to tell you about doulas, why we decided to use one, and how I believe it made my labor and delivery story one I look back on fondly.
A doula is…
a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to a mother before, during, and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.
There are many misconceptions about doulas and their role, so let’s start by clarifying what it is they do (and don’t do).
What Doulas DO:
- Provides emotional support for the mother (and partner)
- Uses comfort measures: breathing, relaxation, movement, positioning
- Educates about various birth choices
What Doulas DO NOT do:
- replace a spouse or partner
- take away your voice
- perform clinical tasks such as vaginal exams or fetal heart monitoring
- give medical advice or diagnose conditions
- judge your decisions
- deliver the baby
My Doula Experience:
My husband and I don’t have a medical background, and I was pretty terrified I would end up having an “emergency C-section.” So I started researching ways to have a more natural child birth. I kept reading about the use of doulas and thought it was a pretty novel idea. I went to a baby fair at the North Liberty Library and spoke with several and was pretty convinced that a doula was right for us.
Initially, when I ran the idea by my husband, I think he felt threatened–almost like I didn’t trust that he would be good enough to support me. That was absolutely not the case. I wanted an advocate for us to have the birth we imagined, a champion to help us out. We were first timers and had no idea what to expect. He warmed up to the idea when we met with Morgan from Kind Roots. She totally understood our concerns, started sending me information on questions I was pondering, and she helped us complete our birth plan.
My doctor is a family medicine doctor, so there was no guarantee that she or even the resident I was seeing would be the ones to assist me in the room when I delivered. One of the biggest benefits to me was I knew that Morgan was going to be there to support me when it was time.
I was pretty sure I would want her with me the entire time I was in labor. It went faster than I imagined, and my husband and I labored at home to 7 cm. We called Morgan on our way into the hospital and she met us there in what seemed like minutes. She had a very calm presence, and was like camouflage with the staff and my husband. They had an unspoken language to help me through contractions. She tried many different tactics to keep me comfortable–things I would have never thought to ask for or known how to vocalize. I was so focused on each contraction, and the best part was I was able to be in the moment with my husband because of her support.
My husband was my left hand; my doula was my right hand.
Massage my back.
Don’t touch my back!
I need water.
Get that out of my face!
How much longer?
Should I ask for the epidural?
Yelling through the pushing phase
and much more…
None of it phased our doula. She was incredible. She was there. I followed our birth plan pretty much to a T with her help. I had an amazing labor and delivery. Even my husband says we don’t know how couples do this without someone else in the room helping them. We are both adamant at this point we will have a doula at each future child birth.
Being a first time mom and not knowing what to expect during labor and delivery was pretty scary. Knowing that she would be there to help us go through it helped ease my fears. She was educated on so many different scenarios and was solely focused on my needs, which gave me so much peace of mind. I could not be happier with our doula and the birth of our firstborn!
Interested in learning more? Check out these local doulas:
- Kind Roots Doula & Birth Services
- Bliss Hypnobirthing & Doula Services
- Iowa City Doula
- Iowa City Birth Services
- Beloved Bonds Womb to World
Be sure to ask what services are offered, as many doulas have additional credentials and are able to assist with placenta encapsulation, postpartum support, child birth education, and lactation assistance.
I’d love to know: Do you Doula? Leave me a comment with your story (or hesitation)!