What is a Doula? Ask a real doula and get real answers.
I’m on vacation with my family this week. Over lunch today, my sweet mother-in-law asked how signups are going for our upcoming training. This led to a discussion about just what a Doula is. Is a doula the same thing as a midwife?... a doctor?
Maybe you are very familiar with what a doula is, maybe you have some vague idea about doulas or maybe it just sounds like a funny word. Wikipedia says that a doula is “ also known as a birth companion, birth coach or post-birth supporter, is a non-medical person who assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth, to provide emotional support and physical help if needed. They also may provide support to the mother's partner and family.”
Do you have more questions? Luckily for us at Haumea, we have five incredible women on our team who are Doulas, so who better to ask than them?
What is a doula?
Kristin: A Doula is so much more than people might think; it is more than someone to hold the birthing woman's hand. A Doula is someone who commits to supporting the entirety of labor and delivery. Doulas also hold prenatal visits to prepare and postpartum visits for support. Often during labor and delivery in a clinical setting, there are multiple shift changes - a Doula commits to providing constant and consistent emotional and physical support for the entire time. There is research to support that continuous support in labor from a Doula improves the overall birth experience.
What types of births have you attended?
Angie: I’ve attended hospital, home, medicated, Unmedicated, hypnobirths, waterbirths, c-section, VBAC, vacuum assisted, overseen by midwives, OBs, family medicine doctors, and also two (successful) external cephalic version procedures for breech babies!
Why did you want to become a doula?
Alix: When I first heard about doulas and midwives, I felt immediately drawn to it and "just knew" it was what I was meant to do. It's always felt like a calling. It's something I must do and something that brings great meaning and fulfillment to my life. It's hard to put words to the exact reasoning--but I can say that I did NOT become a doula in order to "fix" anyone's birth or help someone do it the "right" way. My goal has always been to aid a person in feeling like they are giving birth, as an active participant in the process with full bodily autonomy, rather than feeling like birth is something that happens to them. I think that even before giving birth myself or becoming a doula, I recognized the vulnerability and potential for trauma that could come out of that experience, and wanted to protect the birthing person's personal power. The birthing person gets to decide what a powerful, fulfilling, safe experience looks like--and it's our job and honor as birth workers to protect and provide that.
What has surprised me the most about being a doula?
Claire: I think what's taken me most by surprise is how much I fall in love with each and every one of my families. The bond that grows while supporting and holding space for people while they birth their babies is a really special one. We take care of each other. My fridge is full of baby pictures now. My families know I'll always be there for them, and I've received so much love and support from them in return!
Are you interested in finding out more about our Haumea Doula’s. Here is a link to how you can get in touch with each of them:
Claire Baker: https://www.clairebakermadisondoula.com/
Angie Traska: www.aligndoula.com
Alix Loniello: www.beautifulbirth.org/alix
Want to learn birthing ticks and tips from our very own Doula, Angie Traska? Check out our Birth Education programs here: https://www.haumeamama.com/childbirth-education
Photography Credit: http://www.anyawait.com
- Angie providing acupressure to a mom who was gracefully laboring at 9 cm with hypnosis in the tub at Meriter
- Angie providing counter pressure to a mom at home in her bed before she went on to triumphantly birth her second daughter via HBAC (home birth after cesarean)