Doulas are trained and experienced professionals who provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth. Research has shown that when doulas attend births, labours are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.
A birth doula’s tasks include:
Assisting the mother and partner in preparing for and carrying out their plans for birth
Staying with the mother throughout their labour
Providing emotional/physical support
Providing an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the parents get the info they need to make informed decisions
Doulas also facilitate communication between the labouring mother, partner and clinical care providers, and are trained to help in births with both midwives and OB/GYNs in a home/hospital setting.
Why work with a doula?
Many new parents don’t realize that regardless of care provider, OBGYN or midwife, they will be alone for much of their labour. At the hospital, nurses will be in and out occasionally checking on you and your baby's heart rate. For home births, the midwives may come by in a prolonged labour situation, but typically will just be there once active labour is progressing to transition. For the majority of the time, it is just you, your partner and any other support person(s) you have invited to be there.
For shorter labours, labouring alone may not pose a challenge. With longer labours that go on for 8, 12, 24-36 hours it can be hard to keep your energy up and keep focused. Having a doula there who is experienced, calm, and not as emotionally involved in the outcome can help remind you that what feels like a nerve-wracking & hectic situation is just a natural process with an expected course.
If I have a doula, do I need a midwife too?
A doula is not a qualified primary care practitioner for labour & delivery. Doulas are not trained to deliver babies, so you must also be working with a midwife or physician even if you choose to work with a doula.
If I plan to birth in the hospital with an OBGYN, can I still use a doula?
Having a doula during a hospital birth with an obstetrician can be especially important. A doula can help in a hospital birth with an OB/GYN by:
Making sure you don't go to the hospital too early
Providing continuity of care - your doula will stay with you from whenever you call them in labour to when the baby is born; conversely, it is possible and often likely that both nurses and physicians will be going on and off duty during the course of your labour
Being there for the labouring parent if the non-labouring parent needs to take a break to get something to eat or go for a walk
Help you to avoid medical intervention as long as you desire and is possible
If I have a doula, do I have to have a natural birth without pain medication?
Definitely not! However, one of the advantages of having a doula is that many parents who expect to need pain medication are able to avoid it through the use of massage, positional changes, encouraging support, and information about how their labour is progressing.
What role will my partner play in my labour & delivery if I have a doula?
Your doula is there for your partner just as much (or sometimes even more!) than they are for you. While you, the labouring parent, enter "Labourland" and go deep into the changes going on in your body as your labour progresses, the non-labouring parent may have questions about what is going on, how they can help, if it's alright if they go to the bathroom, get a snack, etc. With a doula present, someone is there to make sure that the non-labouring parent is able to take care of themselves through what can be a very long and tiring process.
What makes a Naturopathic Doula different from any other doula?
As a Naturopathic doctor, I combine Doula services with Naturopathic treatment protocols to assist before, during and after labour. I can discuss nutrition, supplementation, and do regular medical check-ups. Pain management therapies used during treatment include homeopathy, acupuncture/acupressure, herbal medicine and hydrotherapy. Doula’s that are not NDs cannot give supplementation advice nor administer homeopathics/herbs, and are not trained in specific acupuncture points. In addition, naturopathic doctors can treat various prenatal and postnatal health concerns such as Candida, Group B Strep, UTI’s, fatigue, headaches, post partum depression, low milk supply, and more.
Dr. Brandi Honaizer, ND Arbour Wellness Centre 3955 Victoria Ave Nanaimo, BC V9T5H2