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What is a Labor/Birth Doula?

What is a Labor Doula? What is a Birth Doula?
Flowers swirling on the edges of a pink background. The words "What is a Labor/Birth Doula?" lay in the center.
In the coming days you will doubtlessly see a trend when it comes to how doulas identify themselves. We are not a sneaky lot. Most often we offer support to those going through the life event or journey that we tack onto the title of Doula.

Thus a labor or birth doula offers support to people going through labor or giving birth. These titles are often used interchangeably hence why I have included them both in the same blog.

I personally prefer to use the title of Birth Doula because not everyone who gives birth goes through labor, and thus may think that they can't/shouldn't hire a Labor Doula. I can tell you that the training is often the same and that those who use the label of Labor Doula will happily take clients who are opting into or believe they will have a cesarean birth.

We receive training on the different stages of labor, medical interventions and options that those giving birth will face (including how they can be different depending on birth location), techniques to help with pain management, breathing techniques and more.

Birth Doulas are very flexible, we understand that sometimes people planning their birth may want one thing but once birth is happening they realize they NEED something else. We are a non-judgmental emotional and educational resource for our clients no matter the time. We are there to support our clients as they make the variety of complex decisions that are involved with giving birth.

Our goal is to help our clients achieve the birth they wish for while also preparing them in the event that plans change.

What is involved in hiring a Birth Doula?

First you would need to contact and meet the doula. This initial consultation is usually free and can be in person, virtual (zoom, facetime) or over the phone.

Once you have decided on your doula you will sign a contract with them for their services. Most Birth Doulas include a couple of prenatal and postpartum visits on top of attending our client's birth, and go 24/7 on call for you after a specified date. These vary from doula to doula. I personally like to have two prenatal and two postpartum appointments and go on-call for you starting 3 weeks before your Estimated Due Date.

Prenatal doula appointments are intended as time for the family and doula to become better acquainted and to prepare birth plans. This is the time where the family can ask questions about interventions and explore birth options like positions, and comfort measures. During these appointments we are learning alongside the family about the birthing person's preferences.

Attending the birth starts when you call your doula. If your have just started contracts and would like us to bake bread with your as you labor before going to your birth location we are perfectly happy to do that. If you would like us to come once you are at your birth location and are admitted we will happily meet you there. We come when you are ready for us. Once we are present we will watch and attend to your needs. We can fetch water and food for you,help you walk, sway, dance and get settled in. We can help change the room to make you feel more comfortable by putting on music for you, getting more blankets, changing the room temperature, etc. When labor becomes more intense we can provide counterpressure (pain relief technique), and provide verbal and physical encouragement for both the birthing person and their support people. We hold space for you to discuss your feelings around how your birth is going or went. After the birth we can give a little help when it comes to lactation. Once family and baby are settled we leave.

Postpartum doula appointments are mainly to provide insight and resources for the family. This can involve handouts on healing, recovery, and warning signs for the family to look out for, also well as community resources. We are also happy to do a load of laundry or wash some dishes on the way out (if the client wants).
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