What Does a Doula Do?
- Susan Jessee, 11/7/2016
We absolutely do the items listed in the graphic. We do all of this and more.
I love birth. I'm addicted to watching a baby grow and decide when to be born. The tremendous privilege of supporting a birthing parent through the powerful stages of labor and encouraging her to push that new life into the world overwhelms me. So to does the indescribable feeling of being present to witness the miracle of birth.
As doulas, we are honored to be a part of all of these stages of pregnancy, labor, and birth. We are there to listen, not just to concerns, but to struggles, to celebrations, to past experiences, and to the wonder of the future. We support the birthing parent mentally, emotionally, and physically before, during, and after the birth. We also hold space, as we say, allowing parents the time and silence they need to listen to their instincts and what their body is trying to tell them. Most people have become unaccustomed to listening to their inner voice, their intuition, and so this holding space is one of the most important things that we do to help them find themselves as parents.
Pregnancy, labor, and birth mainly focus on the birthing parent and baby. But what about the partner? Fifty years ago, the partner was not even allowed into the delivery room. Now we expect that same person to be the expert when making decisions and providing support. This expectation of someone who may have never seen the birth process is hardly fair. As a doula, we value the partner as an integral part of the birthing process. We provide education before the birth, and reminders during the birth, of their game plan. We support the partner physically, reminding them to eat and sleep. We support them emotionally providing an ear and reassurance when all looks well, and an ear and shoulder when they are worried. We whisper suggestions in their ear when they have run out of supportive ideas.
The Harmony Doula Group is committed to being continuously there during the labor process, but we are also available before labor starts. We are there for texts and phone calls, emotional support and education before the birth. We are there during your labor from the moment you need us until an hour or so after the delivery of your beautiful child, providing continuous support when the nurses and doctors cannot. We are there after the birth encouraging bonding and breastfeeding if desired. We are available for that physical and emotional support after the baby during your postpartum home visit. And we are still available by phone and text afterward for a time if you just need to talk.
What does a doula do? We support, encourage, listen, educate, hold space, whisper, stay present, and adapt to the needs of our clients. In his research findings on labor support, Dr. John Kendell has said that "if a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it." We love our jobs and our clients. We are honored to be a part of something so intimate in their lives.