Many people are unfamiliar with the term "doula". I'm frequently asked what a doula is or does. Essentially, a doula is a birth companion. She (very rarely is a doula a "he", so while I wish to exclude no one; for the sake of simplicity, I will use "she") can provide services prenatally, during labor and/or postpartum. I prefer to be involved in as much of the cycle as possible. Here are my reasons why:
- prenatally: I am able to build rapport with the mother (and family). How can she be comfortable with me during labor if I am a stranger to her? Additionally, many mothers have all sorts of questions during pregnancy. I don't make decisions for mothers, but I am very happy to provide places where she can find more information on her own. How can she make the best choice for her and her birth if she is unaware of her options?
-during labor: dads/partners are fantastic during labor, but only another woman can understand what pain in the perineum truly feels like. The "ring of fire" will mean little to a man (not knocking dads!) and even if the doula hasn't had children of her own (or birthed naturally), she can understand when a mom explains the sensation of crowning. I have been in labor more than once (see birth stories) and can offer sympathy, encouragement, support, direction, and suggestions as needed. It's my role to support not only mom, but also dad/partner or other support persons. Has dad (or SO) had any fluid/nourishment, reminding dad of the birth plan, suggesting techniques that dad can use to help mom be more comfortable.
-post partum period: I see great irony that during pregnancy so many people (from medical support to strangers) treat a pregnant mom as "sick". And as soon as she has birthed her baby, she's often told (subtly or directly) to stop acting sick, to stop being a baby and get back to normal. Birth is not a sickness. However, the postpartum period does require care. Mom needs rest, baby and mom need bonding time, a new family needs to learn how to function as a unit. They need a "babymoon". Mom may also need to process her birth experience, may need help with breastfeeding, her hormones will be returning to pre-pregnancy levels. She needs love and support!
I had a doula with my second babe, and she was extremely helpful. 11 years later, I remember her name and her advice. My interest in birth as a normal life event (in nearly every case) has been part of me for a very long time. My ultimate goal is to be a midwife, and being a doula is an excellent part of that sphere.
When I began my doula training last year, it was definitely a homecoming. I had always read whatever I could get my hands on pertaining to midwifery care and lactation. I was (and am!) very excited to offer support to other mothers.
What's in the name Bella Bambino Birth Services? My DH calls me Bella, Bambino is such a sweet sounding word for baby, and I chose to not use "doula" but rather "Birth Services" because I plan to expand my services to include more than just doula-ing.