What Your Doula Wishes You Knew
It’s no secret that doulas are pretty incredible. What was once a funny word has found its way into our culture as a smart choice that even celebrities are making as they plan their own fabulous births.
Even as the doula grows in popularity and acceptance, there is a lot that the public doesn’t realize about the true role of the professional doula. Some object to the idea of a “stranger” attending their birth. Why hire someone you pay to be at your birth when you don’t even want your sister or mother there?! The idea seems strange until you better understand this incredible and unique role.
We asked some of our favorite doulas what they wish people knew about the work they do. Here are a few of their answers.
“Nudity does not bother me.”
A professional doula will not be embarrassed, frightened, or offended by nudity. Doulas understand how to emotionally “be there” at a birth and they know that getting naked is a normal, necessary, part of the process. Don’t feel self-conscious. She won’t!
“Yes, you can curse. It’s OK and it won’t offend me.”
Many times women are incredibly nervous about, “losing it,” when they are laboring to birth their babies. Some women are worried about cursing, others not so much, but whatever we do to cope, women are frequently nervous they will be judged or looked down on for reacting to the very intense sensations of birth.
Your doula wants you to know that she will not judge you. Your way of dealing with your birth is perfectly right with her.
“Your questions don’t bother me! Call me. Text me! Reach out. I am here for your pregnancy and your birth.”
Sometimes people mistakenly assume that having a doula means she shows up for the birth and not much else. She is part of your birth team, your tribe. She serves as an important part of the support you build not just for birth, but before. Pregnancy in itself can be stressful. At its very best it is different and beyond what we have experienced before. You’ll have unique aches, pains, feelings, and flutters. Talk to your doula. She’s a good listener.
“I will not take dad’s place… he is so important to this… I will help give him the tools to feel confident while supporting you!”
Many couples fear that the doula will take-over for the partner and somehow push them out of the way, overriding their role at your side.
A good doula has zero desire to do this. One of our favorite instructor and doula trainers, Jennifer Valencia, describes the different but complementary roles of doula and partner this way,
“Your doula has an intimate knowledge of birth, while your partner has an intimate knowledge of you.”
Very often, after a doula attended birth, both mom and dad will gush about how much they both loved the doula. She gives the partner permission to be just that- the partner. He doesn’t need to feel inordinate pressure to remember positions, techniques, phrases, and use them appropriately. The doula takes the pressure off, gently guides, steps back, and helps him shine.
“I do not want to hold your baby. My clients make the most adorable babies, and I love them to pieces. But, my goal is to always facilitate early bonding for the parents and their baby. They should be the ones getting all the snuggles.”
While you may occasionally see a picture of a doula holding a baby, that isn’t why they are attending your birth. They want to help YOU hold your baby, not steal a precious moment from a new family.
Ideally, the confidence in you that your doula brings to the birth is the gentle reminder you need that you are the perfect parent for this baby.
“On the inside, I am actually kind of thrilled if you poop while you push your baby out. It is a good indication that you are pushing effectively!”
We mentioned cursing, but that’s not the only thing women worry about happening during childbirth! Often we are horrified to learn that pooping at the end of labor is pretty normal.
If just using a public restroom makes you nervous, this is not welcome news.
Another thing about your doula is that she 100% realizes that this is a normal part of labor and is actually a good sign. She won’t mention it at the time, and she will never mention it later. She may, however, be pretty excited that you are about to meet your baby!
“I think you are AMAZING!”
Whether your doula of choice has experienced 10 home births, scheduled cesareans, or has never given birth herself, she stands in awe of YOU and YOUR birth. She thinks you are amazing, strong, and powerful. She doesn’t judge your choices, reactions, or feelings. She simply supports you where you are at this moment.
She thinks that you are amazing, no matter what.
For this reason, we think doulas are pretty amazing.
This post was compiled with the help of our incredible doula trainers, Hailie Wolfe in Abilene, TX, and Jillian Freeland in Alabama.