What is a Doula?

One of my earliest memories is riding my tricycle around our house while my mom was in labor. I don’t remember which sibling was being born, most likely one of my brothers, but I remember women around, and sunlight, and my bike. I remember feeling happy and loved. When my youngest brother was born, I was almost 7, and my memories are a little clearer. My mom saying it was time, a group of women showing up (all with babies of their own in tow) and an ice storm. Our home was set up in a circle where you could walk through each room, and I paced that circle, just to check in on my mom. I remember seeing my little brother for the first time all wrinkly and little and still surrounded by this group of women.

My deliveries were all in the hospital. I have both good (Like the best muffin I have ever had!) and bad memories attached, but I remember the women who loved me during labor. The women who were there, to remind me to breathe, to move, and to tell me that I was doing an amazing job. Those women, along with countless stories from women who were not as supported as I was blessed to be, are why I am a Doula. 

Every woman should have support during labor, delivery, and postpartum. It really does take a village to raise a child and having part of that village with you from the start is essential. Your village may include your mother, sister, best friend and/or your partner. Having a Doula there as a part of the team adds in a level of expertise and calm that is sometimes hard to find in those closest to you. 

When a woman is planning an unmedicated natural birth, but she is surrounded by those who believe birth should be a medical procedure, she can quickly become demoralized.  If mom is wanting an epidural the moment she walks into the hospital, but her support system believes in only natural birth, she may feel guilty or pressured. A Doula can provide a place for her to discuss her fears, provide space while mom and her partner make medical decisions, and help to provide a sense of peace once decisions are made. Remember our only goal is a healthy mom and healthy baby.

 According to DONA’s website, a Doula is “a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.” This support is for mom, her partner, and anyone else that mom has asked to be included.

I was lucky to be surrounded by women who agreed with me that the end goal was what mattered. Women who supported me in my decisions and gave me the space to make them. After talking to many different Doulas, I believe the best ones are there for that reason. They are there to remind mom and her partner that birth is beautiful, no matter how it happens. Every birth plan is as different as the family that makes it, but in the end, all have the same goal. A beautiful beginning.

My daughter meeting her baby brother for the first time.

For more information on Empowered Birth Network and our Doula’s check out www.empoweredbirthnetworkkc.com

For more information on DONA’s guidelines for Doula’s and their training requirements go to www.dona.org.

For information on local Kansas City Doula’s check out www.KCwomensministry.org a local non-profit committed to serving women.

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