Re: Tell Me About Doulas
I think everyone did a great job explaining what a doula does. All doulas are different and have different backgrounds and experiences. I have went to college for medicine, but after becoming pregnant with ds1 decided not to pursue a career in that. After his birth I decided to work in the birth community. I have many certifications in childbirth and beyond. Not all doulas go the extent I have, but I personally love learning and am very passionate about my career so I want to learn everything (like the jack of all trades type thing).
What I offer my clients is physical and emotional support, along with evidence based education. Everyone is different and needs something different in birth. Some clients need me for distraction, others need me to help them focus, some need me to be able to massage them while they lay in their husband's lap, some don't have a partner with them or any family around, some are afraid of birth or the hospital and need me to help keep them calm/relaxed/comfortable. And yes, some need me to be their voice. I spend a lot of time with my clients building a relationship and foundation with them during their pregnancy, the nurses usually meet them for the first time in labor. I've never gotten in the way of the nurse/Doctor. That is not my place. My place is for the woman and her partner. I am not a doula just for women seeking an unmedicated hospital birth. But for women who have a homebirth, epidural birth and I've even been with a woman having a c-section (she had no one else to support her and just wanted someone there that she knew and trusted).
Once birth is over with I am also certified in breastfeeding counseling and education (currently working towards the boards exam). I help the mother establish breastfeeding. I stay with her for a few hours after birth, longer/shorter if she wants me to. Many of the hospitals I have doula'd at do not have a Lactation Consultant or only 1 who doesn't get to spend enough time with mom after birth (and may not even come in until the next day depending on when birth takes place). I also do postpartum home visits to mom, helping with breastfeeding, going over her birth, bringing food, answering questions, and so on. Whatever she needs, that's what I'm there for.
I am lucky to live in an area that welcomes doulas. The closest hospital to me loves doulas and encourages every woman to have one. The other closest hospital employs doulas, but also welcomes indpenedent doulas like myself. Doulas there also run the childbirth education program. Doulas are not a new invention, they have been around for a long time. My own mom had a doula with her babies (except for me because I came too fast, even before the Doctor).