We all know that doulas have been experiencing more and more hype and publicity over the last few years. But are doulas a fad? What do doulas even do?
Actually, doulas have been around for hundreds of years, although the term "doula" wasn't coined until 1969. Women have been helping other women during childbirth and during the postpartum period since the beginning of time!
When people ask me what I do as a Doula, I smile because it is such a loaded question. The easiest way of explaining it without sounding like a total nerd is, "I am non-medical birth professional, and I support birthing people through pregnancy, childbirth, and their postpartum period." Sometimes they say, "Oh so do you just hold their hand and tell them to push?" The answer to that is.... sometimes.
As a professional doula, I have to be present and intuitive. This means tuning into the energy in the room, reading the energy of the birthing person and their partner, and holding space for transformation. Birth can be unpredictable, but it is ESSENTIAL to make sure my client feels comfortable and supported at all times. This can manifest itself in many ways depending on how my client WANTS to be supported. Sometimes it looks like sitting quietly by their side while they work through labor pains, sometimes it's helping the partner do comfort measures, sometimes it's telling a story to make them laugh, sometimes it's giving them information on a procedure, and sometimes all it takes is a hand on the back to let them know that they are safe.
Doulas are birthkeepers. We are here to support our clients in making informed, empowered decisions so that they can have a positive birth experience. We are here to hold space, to make sure that the physiological processes of birth can unfold. We are here to calm the mind, so the body can work hard. We are here to help increase confidence, and to educate new parents about their options.
I could go on and on about what I do as a doula, but honestly, if you are interested in hiring one- DO IT. If you're interested in becoming one, I can't complain about a single thing. Being on call takes time to get used to, but it is the most fulfilling thing in the world to support new families during a vulnerable time.