By Megan Flemmit and Jessica Migala, photography by yanalya/Freepik
If you’re pregnant (or thinking about it), you may want one on your side.
Childbirth can be a stressful time for many new moms. Preparing for the arrival of your baby while dealing with the physiological changes your body is going through can be a lot to handle. Enlisting the help of a doula can help assuage your fears and manage your anxiety.
Mother of three, Tarryn Walton, gained invaluable knowledge about the aspects of pregnancy with the birth of each of her children. She became a doula to share this experience with soon-to-be moms to ensure they have the best possible experience. “I believe parents should be well supported, prepared and informed of all their choices before their first pregnancy and birth so that they have the best chance of experiencing a birth that is positive and empowering,’ she says.
Over the past two years, Walton, has helped over 50 moms. Here she shares the key things you need to know if you’re considering making use of a doula’s services.
1. A Doula Is A Walking Talking Mommy Handbook
A doula is there to provide emotional, informational and physical support to parents during pregnancy, labour and birth. “It is so important to understand your options and rights during childbirth and to have a team who understands and supports your wishes,” says Walton.
During pregnancy a doula will answer questions about what to expect during labour and what your options are. As well as helping you find relief from various symptoms such as leg cramps, insomnia and nausea. “Often there are little questions that pop up and, if left unanswered, can niggle and create discomfort and anxiety,” explains Walton.
You can book the services of a doula at any stage of your pregnancy. While some mothers prefer to just use their services for labour and birth, some women enlist a doula’s help early on. “Pregnancy is a journey and having your doula join you early in the process, gives her time to get to know you and provides opportunity for her to give you information that may be helpful throughout the pregnancy. It also means you have someone to answer all the possible questions that arise at various stages of your pregnancy,” says Walton.
2. She’s Your Bff In The Delivery Room
If you’ve ever had a baby before, you know there are a lot of people in the labour and delivery room. In fact, you get so used to being naked and having doctors check your dilated cervix that you probably wouldn’t care if an entire class of med students came in. Thing is, as helpful and amazing as your medical team may be, they file in and out. “Nurses change shifts regularly and the OB comes in to manage pushing and delivery,” says doula Erica Chidi Cohen, co-founder of LOOM and author of Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood—and Trusting Your Body. “A doula will be by your side the whole time—even if you have one of those 72-hour labours. “I believe doulas do their best work in hospitals,” she says.
But, you may think, my partner will be by my side! We took those birthing classes! He or she is going to coach me through it. The thing about labour is that it can be a lot for even the most supportive partner to handle. “It’s hard for your partner to see you in pain. It sends them into a trauma response and for some, it incapacitates them,” says Cohen. So the extra calming support from a doula can be key to getting you through.
Walton also emphasizes that a doula does not replace your partners role during labour and birth. “A good doula knows how to involve the dad and will never undermine his role during the birth process,” she explains.
3. They Stick Around Once Your Baby Is Born
A doula doesn’t just peace out once your bun is out of the oven. It would be an understatement to say that that post-birth, your body is a bit…off. Your vagina is bleeding, your boobs are bursting with milk, you’re leaking pee, and your uterus is cramping back into its original position. Luckily, a doula has your back through all of this.
“We help moms with breastfeeding, help them change clothes or pads, help get them comfortable and settled,” says Walton. “At the post-natal visit, a doula provides the opportunity for the parents to talk about their perceptions and experiences during the birth and answers any questions pertaining to the birth experience or new baby. We also check for any signs of postpartum depression.”
Ready to make use of a doula’s services? You can find a list of certified doulas on the W.O.M.B.S website.