What is a Doula? A Doula is a non-medical labor support person, similar to a labor coach. A doula does not replace the role of a husband, partner or relative who may be serving in a labor support capacity, rather the doula augments this support, and even provides additional help to any other labor attendants. They can also help service as liaisons to the medical professionals involved in the delivery if the mother isn’t able, for whatever reason, to properly articulate her wishes.
In addition to support during labor, doulas can also provide pre-natal education, especially labor education, as well as post partum support. Some even provide some lactation support.
I had doula support from local, and DONA certified, doula Katrina Beier during my last birth. Should I have any other children, I will definitely hire Katrina again, if at all possible. I didn’t have the easiest of pregnancies and Katrina’s support was crucial. I had false labor several times during the last few weeks of my pregnancy and she made several visits to the house to help us decide whether my labor was moving forward or not. Given that this was my second child you would think that it would have been clear, but you’d be surprised the kinds of tricks your body can play on you.
In the past, I wouldn’t have really considered having a doula and my husband was rather reluctant when I first suggested the idea this time. He felt like providing labor support was his job and that including someone else meant that he wasn’t doing his job well. But after our son was born, he was very glad that Katrina was there.
Katrina kept track of things for me so that all I had to do was focus on the labor. She kept track of my contraction lengths, when I had last eaten or gone to the bathroom, she even reminded me to check my blood sugar. When I was in labor with our daughter, my husband felt guilty running around the house packing last minute items, mowing the lawn or taking a shower because he felt like he should be sitting with me. But this time he felt free to do what needed to be done. He made a light dinner and finished up any dishes while Katrina helped me through my contractions. He and Katrina took turns doing double hip squeezes to help with the back labor. When we reached the hospital and the triage nurse asked what time I had last eaten, Katrina was able to tell them. When I was considering pain relief (laying on my side in triage did not make it very easy to cope with contractions), she reassured me that if that was what I wanted, it was fine. I hadn’t failed. When we finally checked into our room and the contractions got stronger, Katrina encouraged me, “You can do this, but you don’t have to do this.” With her assurance of my capability I felt confident to get my epidural without feeling like a wuss or a cheater. She sat with me after my son was born so my husband could run to the cafeteria. She stayed at the hospital with us when I was having post delivery bleeding complications and called my parents to keep them updated.
Obviously not every person’s experience with a doula is as wonderful as mine was, but it is a worthwhile option to consider, even if you aren’t planning an “all natural” birth.
If you are near the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania (or western New Jersey) I recommend Katrina Beier and Sidekicks Doula Services.