How a Doula Fits Into a Natural Birthing Plan

The word "doula" comes from the Greek, and means women's servant. When you think about it, women have been helping one another during childbirth for centuries, and the positive benefits are well-established. Doulas are professionally trained in childbirth, with a goal of providing the emotional physical support, not to mention the necessary information to women who are expecting a baby. Doulas are trained to assist during labor, and can also help a woman adjust to her new circumstances following the birth of her baby. The ultimate objective of the doula is to ensure your pregnancy and delivery is memorable and empowering.

What Does a Doula Do?

While most people are aware of the role a midwife plays in a birth, few understand the role of the doula. When a woman's purpose is to have a pregnancy and birth where she is allowed to make the decisions regarding her body and her baby, especially those who want a natural pregnancy and delivery, she may look for a doula several months prior to her baby's birth. This time period allows the pregnant mom and the doula to establish a close and trusting relationship before it's time for delivery. Many women love having a doula because they feel they can ask her absolutely any question, no matter how embarrassing it seems.

Women as a whole are much more reticent about asking their doctor certain questions, so having a doula allows them the freedom to find out exactly what their body is doing, and whether it is normal or not. The doula will guide the prospective parents in creating a birthing plan they feel completely comfortable with. Doulas are also known as labor assistants, birth assistants, or labor companions, and most doulas make themselves readily available to the prospective mom by phone, although they typically provide no medical care. The doula will be right next to the mother during the delivery and will provide comfort through pain relief techniques as the two have discussed prior to the birth. She may offer breathing help, massage, or help in obtaining a more comfortable labor position. In short, the doula is the mother's advocate, and strives to ensure the mom has a positive birth experience.

How to Find a Doula and What to Ask

The very most important issue when choosing a doula is finding someone you feel absolute trust and confidence in as well as someone you can be yourself around. You can likely get some leads on a doula from your doctor, an internet search of your area, or from a natural birth class such as Lamaze. Most doulas don't charge a consultation fee, so feel free to interview several until you find the perfect doula for your specific situation. As your prospective doulas about their training, as well as what specific services they provide, and how much they charge. Make sure the doula you choose is available for your due date-often they are booked pretty solidly. Find out what happens if your doula is not available at the time you give birth, and see if you are comfortable with the alternative. To help you make your choice, ask the prospective doulas what made them decide to go into this profession and what their overall philosophy on childbirth is.

How Your Husband Feels About the Doula

Although some husbands may feel as though the doula is taking their place in the birth experience, most men are grateful to have the extra help and support. The role of the doula is not to take the place of the husband, but simply to enhance the overall experience. While husbands of today are taking a larger role in childbirth, many men would still welcome the backup help as labor coach. In fact, many men report that they felt more able to support their wives emotionally by having a doula, and that it took some of the pressure off them should they forget what they learned in childbirth class.

If you are seeking a pregnancy and delivery that you can remember with positive feelings for years to come, a doula may be the right way to ensure this happens.

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