Do doulas only support unmedicated, vaginal birth?
No. Doulas support all kinds of births for all birthing people. A doula's role is to fully listen to and support the birthing person's decisions every step of the way. This includes water births, C-sections, VBACs (vaginal birth after a C-section), epidurals, inductions, and the list goes on! Whatever kind of birth you have, a doula can lend support.
Are doulas like midwives? and What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?
A doula is not like a midwife. A midwife is a medical professional who is in the room to monitor the birth and ensure everything unfolds safely for both mom and baby. A doula is the only person whose sole focus is the birthing person. Doulas bridge the gap and ensure a birthing person's emotional state is respected and cared for every step of the way.
This also means that when the energy shifts to baby-focused as soon as baby is born, the doula is the person in the room who remains intently focused on the birther and continues to support 100% until an hour after the birth. Midwives are incredible professionals and they have many other roles and functions. A doula is there specifically there to make the birther feel heard and supported.
When can I hire a doula? Is it ever too soon?
Doulas can be hired at any point during pregnancy. Care can begin during pregnancy with prenatal support, but you can also book your birth or postpartum support as early as you'd like. In some ways, the sooner the better because doulas book their calendars many months in advance!
What kinds of services can a doula provide during pregnancy or postpartum?
A doula provides emotional support and information throughout pregnancy via WhatsApp, in-person meetings, Zoom meetings, and phone calls. I also have a lending library of pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and newborn care books for my clients. During pregnancy, doulas also provide references for other professionals and I offer Labor & Birth Prep courses and Postpartum Prep sessions.
During postpartum, a doula's role is to support you in whatever you need during each visit. Visits are usually a few hours long and upon arrival the doula will find out how the day has been, what has been going well and what you'd like help with. I can give support with feeding, baby sleep, baby calming techniques, and more!
Does a doula take the partner's place?
No, a doula is a support person for the birthing person and also for the partner. The partner and doula can work as a team and the doula supports the partner when a break is needed so the birthing person always has someone by their side.
Why would I want a doula if my partner is fully supportive while preparing for the birth?
With both a doula and a supportive partner you will be extra cared for! Partners get tired too and need breaks during birth or during postpartum. An extra pair of hands from an outside party who also happens to be trained in all things birth and baby can be just the care you want to feel sublimely cared for during birth and postpartum.
Why do women report higher satisfaction in labor/birth when accompanied by a doula?
Here I defer to the Impact of Doulas on Healthy Birth Outcomes:
"One of the key aspects of the involvement of doulas is that they provide emotional and other support by maintaining a “constant presence” throughout labor, providing specific labor support techniques and strategies, encouraging laboring women and their families, and facilitating communication between mothers and medical caregivers. Studies examining the impact of continuous support by doulas report significant reductions in cesarean births, instrumental vaginal births, need for oxytocin augmentation, and shortened durations of labor (Campbell, Lake, Falk, & Backstrand, 2006; Klaus & Klaus, 2010; Newton, Chaudhuri, Grossman, & Merewood, 2009; Papagni & Buckner, 2006; Sauls, 2002). Continuous support also has been associated with higher newborn Apgar scores (greater than 7) and overall higher satisfaction by mothers with the birthing process (Sauls, 2002). Others report that many of these effects occurred when support was provided by someone other than an attending nurse (Rosen, 2004; Sakala, Declercq, & Corry, 2002; Sauls, 2002)."
Do all doulas do placenta encapsulation?
No, not all doulas provide this service. I do not.
Do I need a doula?
This short answer is no. The longer answer is, only you can say if the benefits of having a doula sound right for you.
And the better question is: do I deserve a doula? Do I deserve to have individualized care from someone who is well-trained, has experience, and will always have my back?
The answer to those questions is without a doubt, yes! yes! yes! Every birthing person worldwide deserves the kind of support a doula can offer.
Links & References:
If you're not sure what your own birth preferences are or would like additional information about preparing for giving birth here in Madrid, schedule a free discovery call with me! And be sure to check out the Madoula homepage. If you're looking for doula support during your pregnancy, birth, or postpartum please be sure to contact me for a free consultation!
Giving birth is one of the most vulnerable moments in a person's life. There are many factors to consider at all times. The support of a doula from home to hospital adds an additional layer of support for both the birthing person and partner. Continuous care and individualized support increase the likelihood of satisfaction with one's birth experience, regardless of the birth outcome (C-section, instrumental birth, etc).