Pregnancy can be quite a journey. It’s a time of great change, physically, as your baby grows and your body gets ready for labor and delivery. There’s also plenty new to learn when it comes to what labor and delivery will involve, how your body will recover afterward, and how you’ll care for your new baby. And, emotionally, this can all be a lot to take in, as you consider how you’ll adjust to being a new parent. Lucky for you, doulas exist. Doulas are trained professionals who can provide you with support throughout pregnancy and even postpartum after your baby is born. Here’s what you should know about how they can help.
Doula support during pregnancy
Doulas can do a lot to support you throughout pregnancy as you await your little one’s arrival. One way they can help is by serving, essentially, as a professional labor coach to help you prepare for the big day.
They can help you prepare for the physical aspect of this by ensuring you understand what to expect. They can also suggest ideas for how to stay comfortable during labor in terms of how you can position your body, provide hands-on touching during labor that can help you be more comfortable, and also guide you in breathing techniques.
Doulas are also there for emotional support throughout your pregnancy journey. They’re there to help you understand your options, but also to ensure that you feel supported and genuinely nurtured and heard during this tender, life-changing time. They’re also available to assist you when you’re working with your healthcare provider, to help you ask questions, and reinforce your wants and needs. And because, in many instances, you might not deliver your baby with the healthcare provider who has been seeing you throughout your pregnancy, a doula can serve as a great source of consistency and stability throughout your pregnancy journey.
Whether or not you have a partner or person who’ll be supporting you during pregnancy, a doula is an amazing person to have by your side. Doulas can also support your support system as they navigate how to be most helpful and present during your pregnancy and your child’s birth, are available to answer their questions, and can even share in the physical and emotional work of being a support person.
Doula support during the postpartum period
Your baby’s birth isn’t the end of the journey. Your first weeks and months with your little one are a tender time full of firsts. Your body is recovering, you’re adjusting to caring for an infant who needs a lot from you, and your whole family may be adjusting. Doulas can help make this transition an easier one for you. They can provide you with support during breastfeeding and physical recovery as well as continued emotional support and infant care advice, including soothing techniques. Doulas can even help you with the little things that can go a long way in helping you feel less overwhelmed, like meal prep, looking after your other children if you have them, running errands, or referring you to other care or support services (like breastfeeding support groups, new mom groups, or healthcare providers.).
How you can find a doula
Doula support services exist in many places these days, so the good news is you should be able to find doulas who work in your area. With a quick internet search, you can likely find a number of doulas working in your area (DONA International, a leading doula certifying organization, has a database to search by location), and some work independently while some work as part of a team, agency, or association. It can also be beneficial to ask your healthcare provider if they have any recommendations for local doula groups. And some healthcare offices and community clinics may even provide you with access to doulas in your community who may be available to support you through pregnancy and postpartum at no cost. Doulas can be expensive and inaccessible for some people to hire on their own, so even if free community doula services are not available through your healthcare office or clinic, many student doulas do offer free or discounted services. So you should have some options to find a doula who’ll be right for you.
Support throughout the journey
If you think you could benefit from working with a doula, start your search. The journey toward becoming a parent is quite a ride and you deserve to have support at every turn.
- Doulas: Why it’s important to find one who really gets you
- How to advocate for yourself as a patient to get the care you deserve
- Kenneth J. Gruber, Susan H. Cupito, Christina F. Dobson. “Impact of Doulas on Healthy Birth Outcomes.” The Journal of Perinatal Education. 22(1): 49-58. Winter 2013. Retrieved August 31 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3647727/.
- “Find a Doula.” DONA International. DONA International. Retrieved August 31 2020. https://www.dona.org/what-is-a-doula/find-a-doula/.
- “Obstetric Care Consensus: Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2016. Retrieved August 31 2020. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/obstetric-care-consensus/articles/2014/03/safe-prevention-of-the-primary-cesarean-delivery.