Will a doula replace the husband/partner and make him feel unnecessary?
No, a doula does not take the place of the partner or husband. In fact, a doula enhances their role by making sure the partner is taken care of and encouraged too. Research in this area indicates that the presence of a doula during labor actually increases the physical support and affection shown by the partner. The role of the doula is to provide not only comfort and information to the mother, but also to demonstrate effective techniques that can be used by the partner during each stage of labor, to offer reassurance about the normal progress of labor, and to allow the partner the freedom to simply be with the mother and love her without any pressure to ‘coach’ her or relieve her pain.
A doula supports and encourages the father and enhances his support style rather than replaces him. A doula’s role changes, depending on the needs of the couple. She may be the primary support person for the woman or have more of a background role of support, providing gentle reminders of how to ease discomfort or encourage labor progress. She is supportive of both the mother and her partner, and plays a crucial role in helping the partner become involved in the birth to the extent he or she feels comfortable.
The father or partner, may be extremely willing and able to provide continuous emotional and physical support but has little actual experience dealing with the forces of labor. Even fathers who have had intensive preparation are often surprised at the amount of work involved (more than enough for two people). Even more important, many fathers experience the birth as an emotional journey of their own and find it hard to be objective in such a strenuous environment. If it comes time to make decisions about the course of labor, the doula can instill clarity and confidence in the couple by drawing upon information shared at prenatal visit regarding their birth wishes to insure that an informed and well-communicated decision is made.
Does hiring a doula mean having to labor without pain medications?
No. A doula is there to support the woman’s decisions every step of the way whether she chooses to have pain medications or not. However, the majority of clients seek the support of a doula because they desire a birth with as few interventions as possible, including avoiding pain medications. The doula will help the woman stay focused on her birth plan and can provide a variety of coping techniques and comfort measures during labor that will aid in relaxation and encourage labor progress. She can also provide reassurance and a belief in the woman’s ability to achieve the natural birth she desires.
If a woman intends to use pain medications, there is usually still a need for hands-on labor support until a steady labor pattern has been established and an epidural can be most successful, usually around 4-5 cm dilation. This could take a very long time in some cases. The doula can provide hands-on labor support using the many comfort measures in which she is trained, helping the woman progress in labor to a point when the epidural will be most effective. After the epidural has been administered, the doula can protect the woman’s back and hips by maintaining appropriate positioning for her. She can also be an invaluable support during the pushing phase of labor. When the legs and lower torso are numb it can be difficult for a laboring woman to push effectively. A doula can remind her how to push and encourage her with each contraction, affirming her efforts.
What is a doula’s role at a cesarean birth?
A doula can still be a source of informational, physical and emotional support with a cesarean birth. She continues to be a calming presence before the procedure as preparations are being made for the surgery, whether planned or not. She can stay by the woman’s side during the procedure, if permitted by the care providers, and can help preserve the events of the birth through video, photographs, or by writing them down on paper. If the father accompanies the baby to the nursery, the doula can join the mom in the recovery room so she is not alone. Once the mother is settled back into her room, a doula can provide breastfeeding assistance and demonstrate positions to use that will be less irritating to the incision site. She can also continue her role as a sounding board for any questions or issues that the new parents may have, in addition to preserving the details of the amazing event they just experienced by taking down notes to be included in the birth story presented postpartum.
Doula support can last anywhere from one or two visits to more than three months. Some doulas work fulltime, with 9 to 5 shifts. Others work three to five hour shifts during the day, or after school shifts until Dad gets home. Some doulas work evenings from around 6 pm until bedtime, 9 or 10 pm., and some work overnight. Some doulas work every day, some work one or more shifts per week.
What is the difference between a postpartum doula and a baby nurse?
The role of a postpartum doula is to help a woman through her postpartum period and to nurture the family. Unlike a baby nurse, a doula’s focus is not solely on the baby, but on fostering independence for the entire family. The doula is as available to the father and older children as to the mother and the baby. Treating the family as a unit that is connected and always changing enables doulas to do their job: nurture the family.
Do postpartum doulas help mothers to deal with postpartum depression?
Unlike therapists or psychiatrists, doulas do not treat postpartum depression. However, they will help by creating a safe place for the mother emotionally. The doula will provide a cushioning effect by accepting the mother within each stage that she passes through. They relieve some of the pressure on the new mother by helping her move into her new responsibilities gradually. By mothering the mother, doulas make sure that the mother feels nurtured and cared for, as well as making sure she is eating well and getting enough sleep. In addition, DONA International certified postpartum doulas are trained to help clients prepare themselves for parenthood, maximizing support and rest. These doulas will help their clients to screen themselves for postpartum mood disorders and will make referrals to appropriate clinicians or support groups as needed.
Do postpartum doulas teach a particular parenting approach?
No. DONA International doulas are educated to support a mothers’ parenting approach. Doulas are good listeners and encourage mothers to develop their own parenting philosophies.
How do postpartum doulas work with a mother’s partner?
A doula respects the partner’s role and input, and teaches concrete skills that will help the partner nurture the baby and mother. The doula will share evidence-based information with the partner that shows how his or her role in the early weeks will have a dramatic positive effect on the family.
Do you accept payment plans or credit card payments?
I have a payment plan in place for my services but am always willing to make adjustments if necessary to better accommodate the family’s budget. I am happy to work with my couples and even make referrals to other doulas who might have more flexibility, or doulas in training in need of certification births who would charge a very reduced rate and at times, nothing for their services. Regardless, please do not let finances be the reason you do not hire a doula.
I am in the process of being able to accept credit card payments. If that is the method of payment you prefer, please let me know.