Professional, Objective Experience - Why a Doula is Worth the Investment

This is Part 2, Professional, Objective Experience in a series, "Why a Doula is Worth the Investment". 

You will find Part 1, Being On Call, here.

I often hear from those who are unsure of a birth doula's role, "Can't my {insert loved one} be my doula?" 

My answer is, "Absolutely, if they are a doula too!"

This statement is not meant to offend you or place doubt on your loved one's abilities, but to offer perspective about the role of each person on your support team. 

Yes, your loved ones can support you through your birth experience.  They are irreplaceable.  As your doula, I am not there to replace any member of your personal support team, but to enhance each of your experiences. 

Providing Professional Experience

I have spent hundreds of hours training, reading evidence-based literature, meeting with clients, discussing birth choices, creating birth plans and attending births. 

This is my passion as well as my profession.  I have dedicated my life to serving women and families throughout pregnancy, labor, birth and beyond.

Your loved ones have spent their life loving you - let them love on your during your birth.  Let me be the professional that helps each one of you, each step of the way.

I can help your partner feel more comfortable in the birthing space, and help them know how to best support you.

 Birth Photography by Shallin Blue

Birth Photography by Shallin Blue

During your pregnancy, we meet more than once to discuss your birth choices and preferences.  You let me know whether you love touch and massage, or if touch makes you feel uncomfortable or tense. 

I ask you about what helps you relax and feel calm - soothing music, dim lights, a quiet environment, your own pillow and blankets, meditation, prayer, familiar images, your favorite words of encouragement and more. 

Using this information, I communicate to your birth team how we can best support you when you go into labor, because we are prepared.  We have this knowledge that you have shared with us - and now, we use that information to best serve you.

I can help your loved ones support you with comfort measures.

I served a birthing woman who had her husband, her mom and myself (her doula) as her support team.  As she sat on the birthing ball during contractions, she rolled her hips in a figure 8 motion, resting her arms and head on the elevated bed, as her mom massaged her back.  I came over, and the birthing woman's mother said, "Oh!  I hope I'm not in your way"!

She was surely not in my way.  In fact, she was doing something I cannot - there is nothing like your own mother's touch.  I know that feeling.  Even as an adult when I've been sick in my mom's presence, she will come and sit next to me, and brush my hair away from my face.  It's that touch when you are sick, fearful, stressed or scared, where you know everything will be ok.

I can massage all day long and help to provide you relief and relaxation, but I cannot mimic that feeling you receive when your mom, partner or loved one rubs your arm or back. 

But, I can continue to encourage you, the birthing woman, maintain a calm relaxing environment with dimmed lights, bring you cool cloths for your neck and forehead, adjust pillows behind the back or between the legs, get more blankets, show your partner different laboring positions he can assist you in and show your loved one some massage techniques, or join them in the effort to give you more places of comforting touch.

I'm sorry I can't share all my comfort measures and doula tricks here, I would be blogging constantly!  But, I can discuss and share them with you and your birth team in our prenatal appointments and in the birthing room.

Providing Objectivity

Another way it is difficult for your husband, mom, best friend or sister to serve as your doula is the ability to be objective. 

While an extreme example, medical professionals are not allowed to operate on members of their own family.  They cannot be objective in this situation.  The person on the table is their life, and their world would not be complete without them in it.

The members of your support team who love you have the same experience - it is nearly impossible for them to remain objective.  But do you know who can?  Your doula. 

I can see the big picture. I know your preferences. I know this field.  I can be a resource for you in those times when emotions blur reality, and offer comforting words of encouragement, evidenced based knowledge and professional experience.

Final Answer:

So yes, if your husband, mom, sister or best friend has trained as a doula, has experience as a doula AND has the ability to remain objective during tense, emotional experiences involving the ones they love most, then they can serve as your doula.

However, if you find that you need your loved ones on your support team AND this objective, experienced professional, I am here to serve you. 

I am only a phone call (814.688.8632) or email (shallinblue@gmail.com) away!

Stay Tuned for Part 3 in this series, "Why a Doula is Worth the Investment":

The Facts.