People can be all over the map when it comes to the idea of adding a doula to their support team. Sometimes the pregnant person is certain that they need extra support, but their partner is hesitant. Sometimes the person who will be giving birth feels like they'd be alright without a doula, but their partner is nervous as heck and wants someone in their corner to guide them in supporting their loved one. Wherever you are on that map, it's a good idea to learn about how partners and doulas can work together to support the pregnant person as they go through the transformational experience of giving birth. Doulas and partners each have important expertise that they bring to the table. (It's important to note here that a 'partner' may not necessarily be the birthing person's significant other. Some people may choose a parent, a sibling, or a friend to join them for their birth.)
Partners, you are the expert on your loved one. You know which jokes will fly with them, and which ones will make them roll their eyes at you. You know what song to put on to bring them out of a bad mood. You know which snacks they like, and how often it's best to make sure they're fed. You've even gotten used to the fact that this can change from week to week during pregnancy; yesterday it was oranges and pad thai, and today they've got acid reflux, so it's just crackers and ginger tea. You know your partner's fears, hopes, and past experiences. This is huge, because sometimes those things will come into play during pregnancy and birth, and you are the one who will know what's happening in your partner's mind and heart, and how to love them through it.
That's the biggest factor that makes you the ultimate support person in labour: you love this person, and they love you. They trust you. You make them feel safe, loved, understood (as much as one human being can understand another), and important. They know that whatever happens during their birthing journey, you'll be there loving them through it, championing their hopes, and relaying their wishes when needed.
All of that love breeds the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin even has the nickname 'the love hormone'. It's the one you feel when you share a long hug, or you get a bunch of forehead kisses. Even a long look into your loved one's eyes can bring on the flow of this powerful hormone. And what does that have to do with birth? Everything! The hormone that had a hand in creating this baby is also the one that will help the birthing person's body to bring the baby out and into your waiting arms. That makes YOU the most important person to have around when they are in labour. Those embraces, kisses, and the look of gratitude and wonder in your eyes will keep them feeling loved, which will help to keep their birth process rolling along.
So, if all you need is love, why add a doula to the team? Because while you are busy loving your pregnant partner, they are busy experiencing the process of giving birth, and doulas are experts at supporting people through the birth process.
We are trained and experienced in knowing how birth looks, sounds, and feels. We know that it's normal when the birthing person begins to 'zone out' at some point during their labour, becoming less social and more withdrawn. We know that it's a good sign when they are gradually losing clothing, getting closer and closer to the ground, and making noises they've possibly never made before. (It can be very reassuring for a partner to look over at the doula when things seem out of the ordinary, and they see us smiling, nodding, and calm as can be.)
We understand the physiology of birth, and the necessity of the birthing person to feel safe, uninterrupted, and unobserved in order for their hormonal dance to continue to bring on the waves that will bring out their baby. We are promoters of evidence-based care for our clients, being sure that people know their choices and weigh their options when making decisions about their care. We encourage people to follow their own instincts when it comes to coping with the intense sensations, and we can give suggestions and provide hands-on comfort when needed. (Ever heard of a hip-squeeze? If not, don't worry. We can teach you.) We are constantly learning more about birth, and adding new (and ancient) wisdom to our practice.
Doulas are passionate about birth. For some of us, that started when we gave birth ourselves, and woke up to the wonder of it all. We know how important the experience of birth is for the person giving birth, for families, for couples, for the babies themselves. We are going to continue to walk our 'sisters' through their own experiences, and we know that it's your hand they want to be holding as they make this journey. We are there as a guide, and you are there as their chosen companion. We know that you are only having this baby once, and we want it to be a powerful, intimate, transformational experience for your family.
Your bond with and intimate knowledge of your loved one, combined with our passion for and understanding of birth, makes us a dream team. If you want to learn more, feel free to invite us over for tea.