What is a birth doula?
The word doula comes from the Greek language meaning a woman who serves. As a birth doula, I support families throughout their labor and birth. I understand the physiology of birth, the emotional needs of a woman in labor, and the importance of connecting with her chosen birth team.
I provided physical support to mom and her partner with the use of a variety of comfort techniques. These can include massage, breathing techniques, changes in positioning, use of the tub/shower, creating a favorable birth environment, and using various tools like the rebozo. It is important that partners maintain that primary support role so that they can enjoy this intimate experience. I help by getting water, ice, heat packs, and other necessities so partner doesn't have to leave moms side.
I want families to feel empowered throughout the birth process. I provide encouragement, compassion, and empathy and try to ease fears and anxiety. My goal is for clients to leave feeling strong and positive about their experience. I also provide evidence-based information so that they can make clear choices along the way as well as facilitate communication between the clients and the rest of their birth team.
Will my partner feel left out?
What if I plan on using an epidural?
My role is just another member of your birth team and I act as a complement to any other partner you choose to have with you. Family/friends provide huge support and value with a shared history, intimate connection, and unconditional love that can be felt and relied on during labor. Where I come in is in helping the partner/family help mom. I work within your birth team to help you feel confident in the labor room with guiding touch, verbal encouragement and really helping loved ones take advantage of times to bond.
Bathroom breaks and snacks are just a plus!
A doula provides support for birth in many different ways. Birth visions vary greatly and epidurals or other pain management tools can be extremely useful and necessary for creating a positive birth experience. My job is to make sure that families feel secure in any decision that they make and that stress is as limited as possible.
While an epidural will help with taking away much of the physical pain during labor, there will be a time period before it can be administered that I will be able to use comfort measures to ease labor. Once the medication is working, anxiety or worry may still be an issue and by being present with knowledge and comfort techniques we can still create a positive and secure birth environment. Some tools that are useful during an epidural include massage, guided breathing, and help with optimal positioning. Using things like the peanut ball, we can practice position changes that encourage labor progress, get baby in an optimal position, and even make it less likely that you will need a cesarean.
After the baby is born, I encourage skin-to-skin contact with mom and with partner, I can help establish breastfeeding and also manage the flow of friends and family so you have some quiet time for bonding.
What is a postpartum doula?
A trained professional whose goal is not only caring for baby, but caring for the parents and supporting the family as a whole unit. How is everyone recovering, bonding, adapting to the new family dynamic? A big role of postpartum doulas is to act as educators and problem solvers, listening to parents' experiences, watching interactions, and providing evidence-based information on infant care, postpartum recovery, and any other issue that a family may have. Postpartum doulas know how to spot postpartum mood disorders, how to support recovery after birth and cesareans, and are really there to support both baby and birth parent.
As a postpartum doula, I provide support and encouragement to new families during the first few months following the birth of a baby. I care for the mother and her family in their home and provide non-medical support and companionship. I am trained to assist with all things related to newborn care and postpartum healing and I can help with sibling introduction, meal preparation, and household organization. I offer information on emotional and physical recovery from childbirth and other issues related to the postpartum period and can offer many resources that may be helpful within the Kansas City community.
What if I am not sure how much support I will need postpartum?
Birth, babies, and beyond... all very unpredictable! I find it is best to really evaluate the help that you will have available before baby arrives and imagine your dream scenario of support.
When I meet with clients prenatally, we can usually work out a pretty good system of a few days a week or a couple of overnights to have in place once baby is born. It gives them peace of mind knowing that there is extra help built-in and that switching around schedules and adding more hours can always be revisited once they find their rhythm as a family.
Often, I do get that call from a tired partner or family member of parents who are 5, 7 weeks in and recognize a need for immediate support. I am always happy to jump right into the thick of postpartum healing and make things a little easier so families can catch their breath and reset.
If you happen to have family around, that's great! It is often hard to build a village. Helping you navigate family visits allows me to share a whole new set of skills and ideas with you. You will never regret having too much support!