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  • deirdrebowley

What do I 'do' as a doula?

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

I get asked this question a lot. A dear friend and lactation consultant, said we should be call ‘Be Las’, not ‘Do las’ because it is our presence that it is important, not what we do.

This week I had an appointment with a family expecting their second baby in March. During the appointment, I picked up on a few things that the parents mentioned and invited them to explore their thoughts further, pointing them in the direction of resources they might find useful and giving them a framework to better understand their feelings, their options and how to work towards a plan. At the end of the appointment, the father said that he felt calm, supported and more in control. In a nutshell, this is what I do.

I listen, to what is being said, to the unsaid things in moments of hesitation, to what the eyes and body language are saying and to the nonverbal communication between partners. By gently giving voice to these modes of communication, thoughts and fears can be expressed, explored, unravelled, and worked through.

Unknowns can present as fears and lack of understanding can lead to feelings of lack of control. I can help address those in ways that help individuals.

I also often get asked, if I mostly do homebirths. I don’t. Most of the families I support have hospital births and many of those are assisted in one way or another. What they have in common with each other is me, no more, no less. My clients tell me that they feel supported, that they feel good about their births, regardless of how they unfold and that they are glad they choose to have a doula.

There is evidence that women who feel supported in their births, feel more positive about them and that the presence of a doula can lead to better birth outcomes. I make no promises regarding outcomes and I do not put myself between the couple and the birth professionals, I am firmly in the parents corner and I help them navigate pregnancy, birth and early parenthood, with my wealth of evidence and resources behind me.

I work in an area where there are lots of people who have not been in the area long, do not have established support circles, who may to be 100% comfortable in the local language. I have clients who are single parents, who’s partners may not be attending the birth, who have had previous birth experiences, who are first time parents, who have emotional or physical complications that impact on their pregnancy or birth, early births, inductions, caesareans, scheduled and unscheduled, NICU, post natal complications, feeding challenges… as well as straightforward, supported births, in short, everything that birth brings with it. I am there from when my presence is requested, until my presence is no longer required!

I bring with me, my knowledge and experience, but only offer the

se if they are requested or if I think it makes sense for me to offer them. There is no formula, no protocol, no prescription. If I do not have the skills in my repertoire, I provide options to be explored. (also a great source for other birth related evidence)

Image <a href="">Image by jcomp</a> on Freepik

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