I could start off telling you about how women have played roles similar to doulas throughout human history. I could tell you about how bonobos act like doulas for each other during childbirth. I could tell you about the amazing research that has shown how beneficial doulas are on an emotional and physical level for birthing parents. But I won’t.
I’m going to tell you a little about the doula service in detail. We all know about doulas being present at the birth. Some births are long, some are short. As your doula, I am there for all of it. Your doctors, nurses, and midwives may leave to change shifts, see other clients, or carry on with their day, coming back to check in on you during the process and staying when the birth is close. But I stay. That means if your partner needs to take break from the intensity, get some rest, shower, or eat, I am there for you. I eat, sleep, and go through the entire labor process next to you. If you need a new labor position, I’m there. If you need pressure points administered, I’m there. If you need a shoulder to cry on or someone to walk stairs with you for the millionth time, I’m there. Time stops for you and it does so for me as well. I leave my family and other obligations to be there for you for an unknown amount of time. I forget about world events for a while because you are my world.
What’s more, I help you prepare for birth. I offer birth preparation classes. Beyond that, I help you prepare during two prenatal sessions. During these sessions (which often range from one to two-hours), I lead activities to guide you towards full preparation. We practice the birth and choose music. We may write a song or do some art. We may just talk about your excitement and fears.
And there’s the texting, phone calls, and resource providing. I am able to answer your questions or send you to the right resources. Worried about post partum depression? I have a resource for that. Want more information on circumcision? I have a resource for that. Chiropractic care? Infant massage? Parenting classes? Baby wearing? Cloth diapering? Family counseling? Breastfeeding help? I have a resource for that. If I don’t, I can find it.
Lastly, there is the post partum visit. Again, it can be long or short. Again, I come with a loose plan. There is always laughter. Sometimes a few tears as we relive the birth through words and music. Sometimes we create art. And we sit in awe and appreciation of the event that has changed your family. We sit in awe and appreciation of your challenges and how you overcame the struggle. You may talk about what you would want to be different and what you would keep the same. I’ve been amazed when mothers have told me they wouldn’t change their extremely long labors because they learned so much. We invite closure to the event, knowing we can always go back to the memory. We start talking about the future.
So when I say my baby was crowning when my doula arrived at my birth, please understand I'm happy it was like that. It was those texts, phone calls, and pre-birth conversations that were her service. Without my doula’s support, I may have stayed in an unhealthy provider-client relationship. I might have blown off some books that made me really think about what I wanted. I might not have known the word “prodromal labor.” I might have been too intimidated to tell the hospital staff that I didn’t want to wear the gown they offered. All of these things led me to have the two-hour, twenty-minute labor of my dreams.
When I hired this doula, I worried about money. I think everyone worries about money when preparing for pregnancy. Making wise financial choices is part of being an adult and part of being a parent. But when I consider what I got for my money, I’d gladly pay it again. When I consider the price was less than what I spent on my wedding gown, I’d say I got a bargain.