August 25, 2016
Written by Guest Bloggers Amy Hammer & Andrea Stainbrook, Owners of Metro Detroit Doula Services, LLC
Many times when a pregnant woman is researching support and who she wants to surround her in labor, she thinks of a doula. What wonderful addition of support a doula will be for her. She goes online and searches for local professional doulas serving her area. She calls and schedules a consult. Maybe she told her partner a little bit about a doula, maybe not. Maybe the first time he/she is hearing the word doula is actually at the consult.
So how exactly does a doula support the partner?
1) You aren’t expected to know everything about labor. Doulas let you wear the partner hat! That means you don’t have to know or pretend to know about everything that may happen in labor. Your doula will have experience and knowledge. She will help center and ground not only your laboring loved one, but YOU. There may be an intense moment and you want to tell your loved one everything is normal… but you don’t really know. One glance at your doula and her eyes will tell you, “This is OK. This is normal.” She attunes to the situation and knows when not to worry. She’s an expert. And if she doesn’t have an answer she knows how to get it or help you get it. Your doula knows different positions to suggest based on how things are unfolding and other comfort measure techniques that she has been trained in. These things among all of the other tools she has to support will bring confidence to you both.
2) You can be your supportive self and the doula will support you too. Doulas work as a team with you to support your laboring loved one. You may find it difficult to see your loved one in pain and you don’t want to abandon her. You want to help and be supportive. Your doula helps guide you and shows you how to apply counter pressure in her lower back to take a little of the edge off. You find yourself using both hands to support your laboring partner. You are doing great being so hands on! All of a sudden, an ice cold glass of water with a straw appears right in front of your mouth. Your doula will keep you hydrated while your hands are full. Labor can be tiring and draining both physically and emotionally even when you aren’t the one in labor. You need breaks too. If you need lunch, a bathroom break, a nap, some phone calls, or just 10 minutes of fresh air, you can go knowing your loved one is well cared for in your absence. Your doula will encourage you both with her positive words and calm presence.
3) You don’t have to hold it all completely together continuously. The transition time of becoming or expanding your family comes with thought and planning trying to make sure things go as smooth as possible. You may be thinking a number of things, “When does the insurance have to be updated?”, “What bills need to be paid?”, “Will I be able to support our growing family?”, “Will Lauren & our baby be ok?”, “Am I being supportive enough?”, “Am I doing this right?”... You may not be carrying or birthing a baby, but you certainly have worries of your own and you understand your role is vital. That’s when doulas are wonderful for taking the guesswork out during pregnancy and in labor. With their suggestions, guidance, and a second set of eyes to help, doulas will ease the mind of your loved one and yourself making mountains feel more like hills.
4) You can be as involved as much or as little as you want, and you can change your mind throughout. It is not until only recently that partners were so involved in the event of birth, present to see it all. You may not know whether you want to massage, hold a leg or cut the cord until the actual moment arrives - and that’s ok! Your loved one will need support to feel most relaxed and as comfortable as possible. However, if it’s too intense at any given moment, your doula can step in while you take pictures, observe, ask the medical staff questions, or give words of affirmation into her ear. It’s a team environment and we are all rooting for the two of you. In many cases, in the presence of a doula, you will feel more comfortable and end up participating more than you originally planned. But if not, you can have full confidence knowing that your doula is there to step in and support wherever it’s needed.
5) Your connection with the laboring mother can be strengthened with a doula. Things partners may think when there are told about a hiring a doula: “But I AM your support person!“, “I can do all that a doula could do.”, “Will she take my spot during labor?”, “Does she think I am not good enough to support her?”... No one can compare to the relationship you have with your loved one. Your doula proceeds lightly knowing that this grand event is personal, intimate, and paramount to your lives. She could never take your place and she would never want to. Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, not only helps start life, but also brings it forth. When you are relaxed and connected as much as possible to your loved one embraced, kissing, swaying, massaging - oxytocin is flowing out and helping to facilitate the process of birth. Doulas assist in facilitating this.
Nothing is guaranteed in life - so as much as doulas would like to, birth outcomes could never be promised. However, knowing what your end goal is, then actively working toward that goal and planning for it sets it in motion. Because of all the reasons listed above, the big day can be most enjoyable for the two of you to welcome your new bundle.
How has a doula helped you? What were your expectations of your doula? How did you feel about having a doula after your birth? We’d love to hear your experiences!
To learn more about ProDoulas Amy Hammer and Andrea Stainbrook visit: www.metrodetroitdoulaservices.com