Stories From A Doula
When I was twelve years old, I witnessed my mom give birth to my youngest brother, James. I wasn’t afraid or scared of what I saw, rather I was amazed at my mom’s strength, determination, self-gift, and the physical sacrifice she endured to bring me and my siblings into the world. That was my first exposure to birth, and it was a beautiful experience I’ve carried with me through adolescence and into adulthood. Throughout college, my love for women, babies, and pregnancy grew, as did my interest in labor and delivery. Fast forward a handful of years, pregnant with my first child, I attended my first doula training weekend in Minnesota. I had a vague idea what a doula was but wanted to learn more.
What is a doula?
The Greek word doula means woman caregiver or servant. Doulas are more common in countries outside of the United States but are slowly becoming more popular as research is proving how much doulas help with the labor and delivery process. When people ask me what exactly a doula is, I like to say, “A doula is someone who simply accompanies a pregnant mama.” Doulas walk with women during their pregnancies, meet before the birth to talk through labor and delivery, and make sure we understand what the mother desires for her birth and how we can best support her. When labor does begin, the doula’s role is to remain by the side of the mother and attend to her emotional and physical needs throughout the birthing process.
Do I need a doula?
This depends entirely on whether you want a doula! I have been a doula now for 7 years, and after experiencing my own four pregnancies and births, I feel I can share what I have seen and learned along the way. I, along with every woman and mother I have met and worked with, have exhibited a deep need for companionship during pregnancy. Mothers want to feel seen and heard. A mother wants to know that someone genuinely cares about her experience of pregnancy and childbirth- the joys, hardships, sacrifices, and the mental and emotional weight that it entails. All women, at some point, need validation that what they are experiencing during pregnancy and childbirth matters. Humans need affirming and uplifting companionship in life, and mothers feel this in a particularly deep way as pregnancy and childbirth are the most intense biological process humans experience. To the women who hope to get pregnant- you are seen. To the women who never wanted to get pregnant and are - you are seen. The weight of what you are experiencing at this moment is real. Women often find peace when they know they have a friend to walk with in pregnancy and labor.
Some of my favorite parts of working with clients are during the prenatal meetings I have with them in the weeks leading up to their due date. We talk about their feelings about birth, their fears, anxieties, and what brings them excitement and peace. It’s a time to name specific worries before the baby is born, and conversely, share things that excite them or bring them joy. The act of voicing these feelings aloud often brings comfort, and a doula is trained to walk with mothers in this way specifically. When the day arrives and the mama is in labor, my goal as a doula is to make labor and delivery a positive and affirming experience so that the mother can look back and say, “That was really hard and I did it!” Doulas stay by the laboring woman’s side throughout her labor, providing her with comfort measures to help with pain and discomfort, techniques to help provide a smoother delivery, and offer emotional support. We try to keep the environment positive and peaceful and work to nurture and protect the woman’s memory of her birth experience. Nurses and OBGYNs are remarkable healthcare providers, and often times birthing mothers find distinct comfort and consolation in the companionship and support of a partner trained and focused exclusively on their birthing experience, and doulas supplement healthcare providers beautifully in this way.
How much does a doula cost?
The Avi Project partners with many generous people who work to provide cost-free pregnancy care to students. If you are reading this blog and are pregnant, I encourage you to reach out to The Avi Project to seek loving companionship during your pregnancy journey. If you know someone who is pregnant, I encourage you to reach out to them to listen, support, and affirm their experience. There’s nothing in life quite like carrying and delivering a child, and there are people who want to walk with you as you navigate the journey.
Text at any time of day or night at 720-386-6009 or email us to learn more about working with a doula through The Avi Project.