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Doula FAQ's

Why do I need a doula? How do I find a doula?

~ A doula should not tell you that you "need" one, but every family deserves a doula.  A doula will tell you that no matter what your wishes are for your birth experience, they will provide unbiased and continual emotional, mental, physical, and informational support throughout pregnancy, labor and birth, and postpartum.  Imagine an event planner. A personal trainer.  A travel agent.  They will guide you along the way, supporting your desires and assisting you, non medically, on this journey.  You can find a doula many ways!  Google.  Ask local providers, from OB/GYN's to midwives, to chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, yoga studios. Friends and Family referrals.  More online resources such as doulamatch, or directly through training organizations such as DONA, ProDoula, Doula International, and more.

What's the difference between a doula and a midwife?

There are many, but simply put, a midwife is looking after the health of mom and baby prenatally and during the birth process.  They assist in the delivery of baby. Midwives do medical assessments such as monitor vitals of mom and baby, pelvic exams, physicals, and make medical decisions along with the family.  Doula's are not medical and should not be looked to for medical advice or assistance.  Doula's help prepare the family for birth through evidence based informational support, emotional/mental/spiritual development, and physical support, such as massage, positioning, breathing techniques, and more.  A doula can not and should not be aiding with the delivery of the baby. 

How can a doula help me and my partner?

A doula will assist families in their birth experience by listening to their desires, helping them become aware of all their options, supporting their decisions, and providing unbiased, constant support during labor and birth.  They help the family gain evidenced based information to make the best decision for their needs, and help direct them to other resources such as chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture, yoga, and more.  Together they discuss birth principles and preferences, practice coping techniques and comfort measures with the partners to give them the tools to be an active team member during labor.

(Click here for more evidence on doulas.)

Should I take childbirth education? What will I learn?

You know yourself best.  Do you like to gather as much information as you can to feel as prepared as possible?  Or will too much information overwhelm you?  You may find that much disparity lies between what we think we know and how it actually is.  Birth isn't linear, meaning the path isn't straight.  The journey has it's ups and downs and rarely goes as planned.  Will you be ready for the unexpected?  Don't trust what you see on TV shows!  Either way, there is a right class for you.  Explore your options.  There are many, from online to in person, hospital based, out of hospital/privately taught, Hypnobirthing, Hypnobabies, Bradley Method, and more.  In any case, make sure you gather the information that best supports you and your family.  Take what you need/what applies, and let the rest go.  As a doula, I personally find that the more info a client gathers, the more confident they feel.  Do what makes you feel confident!

(Find childbirth education options here)

What are the stages of labor?

Labor. Pushing. Delivery of the Placenta.  You and your doula will spend a lot of time dissecting the 3 sub-stages of Labor: Early labor. Active labor.  Transition.  We will discuss how to identify each stage, not only by the physical characteristics, but more importantly, the mental and emotional shifts that happen throughout. 

What can I do to cope/ find comfort/ relief during labor?

Everybody is different and every body is different.  As your doula, we will explore many options: position changes, exercises, breathing techniques, massage, essential oils, music, art, affirmations, water- tub or shower.  We will also discuss your medical options such as IV drugs, nitrous, and an epidural.

How soon after labor should I go to the hospital?

Everybody is different and everybody is different.  You'll hear that a lot! In our sessions together we will discuss any special circumstances you may have that would require you to go to the hospital early, or decide if you'd like to labor at home longer.  Depending on your own comfort level with laboring at home, you may hear or read about the pattern of 5-1-1 (or 4-1-1 or 3-1-1).  That means, your contractions are 5 (or 4 or 3) minutes apart, lasting one minute, and has been for at least an hour.

How can I have a natural birth?

A first important question to ask yourself is, "what does natural mean to you?" Is it vaginally?  Is it no drugs? Is it both?  Is it at home or in a hospital?  What matters most to you?  Educating yourself as much as possible about the birthing process is a good first step.  Knowledge is power.   Also, become familiar with  the local policies and procedures of the hospital and birthing facilities, and find a supportive provider.  Having a doula may be associated with a decrease cesarean rate by 25%, increase in the likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth, a decrease in request and use of pain medication by 10%, and have a 31% reduction in dissatisfaction rates

How can I avoid a c-section?

Birth can be unpredictable.  We certainly appreciate and are thankful for medical interventions when they become a necessity.  There are certain scenarios that would make a cesarean medically emergent and yet some that may be avoidable.  The average c-section rate is around 35%, when it is thought that a more reasonable number should be around 15%.  So why the increase?  Educate yourself.  Empowerment and advocacy is huge!  Talk to your doula.  Ask your doctor their specific statistics regarding cesarean birth and under what circumstances they would perform surgery. 

(Read more here)

How can I avoid common hospital interventions?

You may have heard this referred to the "cascade of interventions."  This is when starting one intervention increases the likelihood of needing more interventions down the line.  If you are hoping to avoid intervention, hiring a doula is a good place to start.  Educating yourself on local hospital policy and provider statistics, as well as laboring at home as long as possible may be an option for you. 

(Click here for more info)

I'm having a hospital birth, do I still need a doula? Are doulas allowed in a hospital?

Absolutely!  Doulas work for you, the families!  We are not employed by the facility or the provider (in most cases), therefore, we go where you go.  It is a great asset to have a doula in the hospital because we can provide unbiased and constant support.  We will not change shifts or leave your room unless we are asked.  We can help you remember your birth plan when decisions have to be made, and help you understand all your options.

I want an epidural, will a doula still support me?

100%.  Especially with an epidural!  After the epidural is placed, you most likely will be restricted to the bed (unless a walking epidural is an option), and it will be important to continue to change positions frequently and use tools such as the "peanut" ball, stay hydrated, and provide comfort measures such as hand and foot massage.

When should I get an epidural?

You know yourself best.  The right decision is the one that's right for you.  That being said, you can read here about the side effects of an epidural.  It may lead to the cascade of interventions, or it may be just what you need to relax and progress to happen!  A good general rule to consider is once active labor (6cm and up) is established.  It may also be dependent on staff.  Is there an anesthesiologist on staff at the time you want it?  How long is the wait?

Will I poop, throw up, tear during labor?

Maybe.  Maybe not.  If you do, will we tell you?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  This is a very common question and concern.  I assure you that pooping and nausea and vomiting are a very normal part of labor and actually a very good sign of progress, usually happening closer to delivery.  Most people don't even realize they have pooped or torn- they are more focused on the fact they are pushing a baby out.  Talk to you doctor about their specific episiotomy (a cut between the vagina and anus) rates and reasons they would consider doing one.  Generally, it is better to allow the skin to tear naturally (if at all).  How can you avoid a tear? 

(Check this out)

Should I write a birth plan? How do I write a birth plan?

You don't know what you don't know.  If you don't know what all your available options are, then you don't have options, or are very limited.  Take a look at this sample birth plan.  There is a lot to consider!  It's a good idea to understand where your choices come from:  is it a place of knowledge and confidence?  Or a place of fear and the unknown?  After you establish what personal values are guiding you, make your selections that will help create the birth experience you desire.  From that checklist, summarize what is most important for you to have.  Having a summary for the staff (instead of a long list of do's and don'ts) makes everythig readily avialble, on an easy to read one page document.

How long will I be at the hospital after birth?

This will be dependent upon any special circumstances that may have come up during the birth.  In general, for an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, 1-2 days.  For a c-section, 3-4 days.  Check with your provider and birthing facility to be sure.

What are the benefits to encapsulating my placenta?

While most of the evidence is anecdotal (word of mouth, first hand experience), it has not yet been scientifically studied long enough to know exactly if ingesting the placenta can actually help, or if there is a placebo effect.  Other mammals eat their placentas to help decrease postpartum bleeding, among other things.  Humans can do the same! In my findings, there are several possible benefits, and little negative side effects.  Every body is different and therefore will react different.  Talk to your encapsulator and provier to find what is best for you. Possible benefits include: increase oxytocin to encourage bonding with baby, restore iron and minerals that may help with boosting energy, may assist with breastfeeding, hormone restoration, and help combat postpartum blues. 

(Read more here)

How do I encapsulate my placenta?

Talk to you doula, birthing facility and provider, word of mouth, google search, or, if you're local... contact me here!

Have another question you don't see here?  Please reach out.  If you're thinking it, chance are someone else is too.  I'd love to have your feedback and help you any way I can.

*Please note- I am not a medical provider.  You should always seek the knowledge and resources that best fits the needs of you and your family.  Any medical related question and issues should be brought up and addressed with your care provier. 


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