Does the idea of giving birth fill you with anxiety? Are you wondering how you’re going to cope with the pain of delivery?
Every year, more than 3.5 million mothers give birth in the United States. Whether you’re committed to giving birth at home or in a hospital setting, it’s natural to have the first-time jitters.
If you need a strong shoulder to lean on, you might want to consider getting doula services. In this article, we’ll give you the lowdown on doulas and give you some tips on hiring them.
What Does a Doula Do?
You may have heard of birth coaches and birth support networks, but what is a doula? A doula is a non-medical professional who provides emotional and psychological support to mothers before, during, and after birth.
What’s important about a doula is that they’ll stay with you during your entire birth. If you’re in a hospital and there’s a shift change, there’s a good chance you’ll get a brand-new nurse, doctor, or midwife.
Doulas will talk with you before birth, guide and coach you during the birth, and help you with lactation after you deliver.
When you’re hiring a doula, make sure to ask them if they’re certified for post-delivery. Some doulas are only trained for pre-birth and birth-related services, but many are trained to provide guidance with lactation and bonding.
If you have a history of postpartum depression in your family, let your doula know as soon as possible.
Taking Charge of Your Birth Plan
One of the first things a doula will assist you with is formulating a birth plan. Do you want to labor at home or in a hospital? Is a water birth right for you?
If you plan to go drug-free, will you be able to receive an epidural if the pain gets to be too much? Women who labor at home may not have access to pain medication.
Doulas will help you interface with your midwife, your doctor, and even your partner. You may feel that you want to deliver in a hospital instead of at home, and that’s a valid choice.
About 60 percent of all pregnant women choose to get an epidural in a hospital setting. While you may feel pressure to have a non-medicated birth, getting pain management medication may be the best choice for you.
Doulas work to make sure that your needs are getting met and that you’re happy with your birth plan.
Prenatal Massage and Relaxation Techniques
If you’re planning on having a non-medicated, natural childbirth, a doula can be your strongest ally.
They can help you prepare for birth by introducing you to breathing and relaxation techniques. Although the pain of birth can be incredibly intense, having the right mindset could help you skip the medication.
Another service that doulas provide is guidance on diet and exercise. You may be used to doing intense workouts, but it’s best to go low-impact during your pregnancy.
Finding the right diet during pregnancy can be difficult. You may crave high-fat, high-sodium foods but it’s vital to make sure you get enough iron and folic acid as well.
When you start interviewing doulas, talk to them about the full range of services they can provide.
Doula Support During Delivery
If you’ve ever given birth, you know that involving your partner can be difficult. They might be a bit queasy at the whole process or they might not know how they can help.
A doula will encourage your partner to participate in the delivery process. They might hold you during your contractions, offer you water periodically, or even leave you in private while you labor.
The key takeaway to getting a doula is that it’s your birth and it should happen the way you want it to. If you plan on having your partner participate but end up needing some more space, then your plan can change mid-stream.
First-time mothers benefit from having doulas because they explain the birth process in depth.
They know what kind of physical process you’ll need to undergo and will make sure that you are confident before you step into the delivery room.
Do You Need Postpartum Doula Services?
The quick answer is yes, every new mother can benefit from postpartum doula services. Doulas who are certified to provide postpartum guidance can help you get your baby to latch on and help you get started with pumping breast milk.
Breastfeeding can be a challenge for new mothers. Once you get the hang of it, it feels completely natural, but you may have a few sleepless nights until mother and baby are in restful harmony.
While doulas can’t babysit for you, they can help you adjust to your new life as a mother. They can counsel you emotionally and help you through any insecurity you may have about nursing or mothering.
Midwives and doctors may attend the birth, but they don’t often visit with parents after delivery. Having a doula in your corner could help you avoid the devastating effects of postpartum depression.
Doulas may also be able to help you bind your stomach after birth. It’s an ancient way of bringing your body back to its pre-baby state and can help with uterus retraction and pelvic strength.
How to Find a Qualified Local Doula
Take your time and find the right doula services for you. Try to interview three to five doulas before you select one.
You’ll know instinctively when you find the right person. They’ll make you feel relaxed and confident at the same time.
If you contract with a doula but it’s just not working out, let them know as soon as possible. You want to give birth with the support of someone you really trust.
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