You may have heard this word swirling around your OB or Midwive’s office, dotting your friend’s birth story or on your social feeds, and it may have you going “Doula-what?”, “Doula-who?”. Before reading ahead, make sure you peek at this blog post to get all of your questions answered on what the heck a doula is!
Now that you know what we are all about, let me break down some of the ways doulas can support you and your family.
1. Tailored pregnancy, birth and postpartum education, resources and support – all at your fingertips.
- Doulas are continuously learning about pregnancy and birth outcomes to always bring their best to your journey. This includes being able to understand your individual needs, point you to wellness practitioners that can support your mental and physical wellbeing and giving you one on one tutorials on baby care (and more!).
- You have access to this care from the moment of hire with most birthworkers, which is why we suggest families hire us as soon as they would like – why not get support through all the twists and turns?
- If you have any questions or specific needs, your doula will most likely be able to support you through it themselves or point you to someone who is most ideally suited to do so.
2. Better birth outcomes, for you and your baby(s).
- A doula can support you in understanding the medical and hospital systems, as well as your desires for your labour and birth journey. They can then apply these desires and medical procedures into a birth preferences plan – that you can then implement and use as a guide during your labour.
- As twists and turns become a part of your birthing process, doulas can remind you of your boundaries, non-negotiables and goals. They can help you understand how this can look in different scenarios and communicate to your care teams.
- Beyond these logistical supports, doulas can support you physically – to navigate pain and positional challenges. By providing hands-on care and teaching your support team skills (think hip squeezes and massage!).
3. Lower rates of postpartum mood disorders and more support with perinatal mental health.
- From pregnancy through to postpartum, doulas can support you in identifying signs and symptoms of perinatal mood disorders. While doulas (and your support team) make plans for how you can access mental health professionals, reach out to your support system and understand what other wellness practitioners, groups and peer to peer supports are there for you.
- Doulas also nurture your partner(s) and support team in understanding what your particular needs, triggers, and potential symptoms may be, as well as any mental health plans that are in place on how to execute them.
4. Sleep and food support! Need I say more?
- Prenatally you will have a few meetings to discuss your individual needs, hopes and create a postpartum plan. This is the time to share your partnership and home rhythms, challenges and desires.
- Then, when you come home with your baby (yay!) your birth doula will visit you in your home to check in on your family unit, home set up and nurture you.
- Postpartum doulas are specific care workers who come to you post-birth to support your entire family unit, including your home. This can look like →
- Birth debriefing, healing guidance and postpartum companionship.
- Sleep support and guidance for the whole family.
- Baby care and education – think bathing demos, baby wearing, and swaddling tips.
- Relationship nurturing between your support team, other kids, and pets.
- Light house upkeep, chores and laundry.
- Nursing, bottle and baby feeding counsel.
- Formula and/or bottle preparation and sterilisation.
- Postpartum nutrition support, through meal preparations and grocery runs.
- Connecting you with other healthcare and wellness professionals.
5. Support for you, in your partnership.
- As you navigate through all that conception, pregnancy, birth and postpartum has in store for you – it’s most likely that your most important relationships will be shifting through these experiences. Doulas are here to create time (by taking care of your newborn, other kids, and house) for you to nurture these people and relationships.
- Doulas can also support you in understanding your boundaries as a family, and how to maintain them through these vulnerable and intimate transitions.
Bonus round! Did you know full spectrum doulas and death doulas exist?
- As you can see, doulas are knowledgable, nurturing, and transformative care workers for individuals and their families. They are best known for their non-medical care through pregnancy and labour (birth doulas) and postpartum (postpartum doulas) – but there are also doulas for death, fertility, abortion, miscarriage, gender affirming surgeries and more!
With all this new knowledge under your belt, check out this blog post on Brood’s top 10 questions to ask a doula that you are considering hiring. If you need help finding a doula in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver, check out Brood’s services and all of our incredible birth and postpartum doulas!