We wanted to know more about doulas, which until now we thought were magical birth practitioners who give really good massages. Turns out, they are so much more! If you want to know more about this profession and how a doula may support your birth and postpartum journey good news! We asked Sarah Mcilwham from MotherWit Doula Care Ottawa to answer some common questions you may have!
I've heard so many great things about doulas! What do they do and why would someone hire one?
Hiring a doula is a personal choice, with reasons unique to every individual expecting a baby. As a doula, I feel my role is to support a family in THEIR choices around pregnancy, birth and postpartum. As I get to know a family and their wishes, I provide them with evidence based information to help them make the most informed choice for themselves and their baby. Prenatally we talk about their hopes for their birth, their worries and fears around birth and postpartum. Often having someone that will hear their concerns and reassure them that all that they are feeling is OK, can really help alleviate some of the anxiety around giving birth. During the birth, some women find they benefit from having very hands on physical support from both their partner and a doula, some prefer less hands on and more emotional support, some prefer both! And doulas are there to support partners too! Some partners would like to be very involved in the hands on support. In that case, we are there for additional hands on support, to give the partner a break, and for emotional support for both parents!
What's a postpartum doula and how can they help?
A postpartum doula is there to support the family after the birth of the baby. Postpartum is a time of incredible transition, a time to bond as a family and a time for mom to heal. A postpartum doula is there to help that process in whatever way they can. It can be as emotional support for mom as she sheds tears of joy, sadness and overwhelm; holding the baby while mom goes to take a shower or a nap; prepping some meals for the family so there is nurturing food easily available while the family takes the much needed time to be together and adjust to their new normal; providing basic feeding support for mom and baby or even simply connecting the family to all the available resources in our community for families.
How can doulas help if I plan on getting drug intervention?
Many people will say that they do not plan on hiring a doula because they are planning to get an epidural. We are there to support you no matter what your birth preference! In most cases, the epidural will not be given at the hospital until the active stage of labour. Getting to the active labour stage can take a long time, and early labour can be very hard, tiring work. A doula will have a many ways to emotionally and physically support this stage. After the epidural has been placed, a doula still provides a great deal of support. There are many positional changes and suggestions that can be provided with an epidural, continued emotional support, and support during the pushing stage. The epidural is designed to remove the sensation of pain, but other sensations of birth like pressure as the baby descends can still be felt!
How is a doula involved if I have a c-section?
Whether you have a scheduled c-section, or an intervention by c-section during birth is necessary, a doula will be there for support. Some hospitals are now allowing a doula to accompany the family in the Operating Room (OR). Even if we are not permitted into the OR, we will be there during the pre-operation stage to support you and answer questions, and after the baby is born to support the family in the initial hours after birth.
Big thanks to Sarah! So consider getting a doula to take care of you so you can take care of baby. I can say from chatting with Sarah that she’s awesome and I wish I could hire someone just like her for life (life doula?)!