September 12, 2016
"Continuous labor support. "
"Physical, emotional, and informational support. "
"Support for pregnancy, birth, and beyond."
As doulas we really like using the word support to describe what we do. It sounds like a helpful word to have around, but... It still doesn't really paint a picture of what a doula does, and it definitely doesn't help to explain why it's worth paying many hundreds of dollars to receive "support" from a professional doula anyway.
You are 18 weeks pregnant, and your baby just had a growth spurt, which is exciting because now you are starting to show a little baby bump! But with that growth you are starting to notice a little more pain when you move deep down in your pelvis. Your doctor mentions something about your round ligaments stretching, and maybe even something called your pubis symphasis, but now you don't know exactly what to do about it.
Is this just going to be the new normal?
IS it even normal?
You are 32 weeks pregnant, and you find out that you have high fluid levels and your doctor wants to start monitoring it, and is talking about maybe inducing at 37 or 38 weeks. The doctor asks if you have questions, but because you are a little bit blindsided you don't have many questions to ask in the 5 minutes you have together. You leave the appointment composed, but once you are in the car, you have a big cry as the full force of emotions and questions finally start to hit you:
Is my baby going to be ok?
What in the world does "high fluid" mean anyway?
And does being induced mean I have to have Pitocin?
Will that make my labor way way worse?
You are 37 weeks pregnant and wake up in the middle of the night by the strongest Braxton Hicks contraction you have felt yet. Suddenly you are questioning:
Can I even do this thing called labor?
I think I remember my doctor telling me something about calling when contractions are at a certain point, but I have no idea what that even means... Is this that?
Do I need to call?
Am I in labor?
Your baby is here and in your arms. You have started to breastfeed and things were going pretty well in the hospital, but now you are home and suddenly the baby is very fussy and not latching well. You are starting to wonder:
Did I do something wrong?
Am I making enough milk?
Is my baby ok?
Are we even going to be able to breastfeed after all?
A doula is far more than simply a coach to get you through an unmedicated labor (in fact, we specialize in all types of birth support, not just unmedicated... although that's a different post!). We are your guide through not just the birth, but through your pregnancy and through the first days, weeks, and even months after your baby is born as well. We are the net that catches you, no matter where your pregnancy and birth may take you. Here are some examples:
You can call us about your pelvic pain, and we can give you legitimate ideas and resources to help you work through the pain, including trusted referrals depending on your situation.
You can call us after your appointment and have a good cry, and we will be there to listen and validate how overwhelming it can feel to be blindsided by a potential change of plans. Then we can help talk you through some good questions to ask at your next appointment, and help you understand what you might expect in certain scenarios, so that it doesn't feel quite so overwhelming anymore. We work collaboratively with your doctors, so that you have clear communication with them about what's next.
You can call us at 2am, and tell us how nervous you are to go into labor, and we will help you remember exactly what it is your doctor told you about when to call and why. We will help you understand when labor is really happening, and give you tips to help you get through each stage with calm and confidence... or you can completely lose it and that's ok too. We'll be there to help you work through those feelings as well.
You can call us after you and your baby are home, when your hormones as settling out, your milk is coming in, and suddenly that sleepy newborn isn't so sleepy. We will help you troubleshoot, remind you what is normal, and if necessary, we work closely with a trusted lactation counselor to not only come in and help you, but we work collaboratively to ensure that all of your needs are met, seamlessly.
With a doula by your side, you don't have to know it all ahead of time. You don't have to rely on Dr. Google for information in the heat of the moment. You don't have to sort through a list of names and phone numbers and figure out who best to call in different situations. You don't have to remember it all: you can focus on you and your baby, and we will be there to help remind you what you already know, help you find out the answers to what you don't, and ultimately, help you find YOUR way through. Quite simply: with a doula by your side, you don't have to go it alone.