What exactly can you expect your doula to do?
Your doula will meet with you prenatally to discuss your birth preferences, share comfort and pain-coping practices, provide evidence-based information, as well as address any of your fears, concerns or questions. During labour, birth, and immediate postpartum, your doula will be by your side offering continuous emotional, physical, and informational support. Your doula will help you make informed decisions to own your birth, and support both you and your partner so you have the most positive experience possible.
But what about my partner? Does our doula replace my partner in childbirth?
Your partner may really want to be involved. It is a very common concern that your doula would take the place of your partner, or take away from their ability to be involved. This is simply not true! Your doula provides a buffer between you and the caregivers, minimizing unwanted intrusions into your intimacy, and helping create a calm and peaceful environment, as you define it. Roles regarding everyone's involvement will be defined together, prenatally.
Sometimes your partner may see you working through labour and feel compelled to make it stop, or "fix it". It can be challenging to remember how to support and help. It can also be overwhelming and alarming when your partner doesn't know what is normal and what is cause for concern. The presence of a doula allows the partner to offer support during labour and birth without any pressure, to be present and in the moment. A doula is experienced in labour and knows what to expect. Birth often does not follow the plan you had envisioned. However, your doula will be there to help you navigate these changes and challenges.
Doulas support the partner to become involved in the birth to the extent they feel comfortable. A doula compliments and enhances the partner in their supportive role rather than acting as a replacement. Studies have shown that partners participate more actively during labour with the presence of a doula compared to without one.
How can I make sure both my partner and I are comfortable throughout the process?
The birth of your baby is an intimate family event. The following tips will help ensure a positive experience for everyone:
• Meet with your doula several times before the birth to get comfortable with one another.
• Talk with your partner (and doula) about the role you would like your doula to fill. For example, will she be very hands-on with your partner, or would you prefer she coach your partner to do most of the comforting?
• Remember to ask questions; be honest and try not to keep questions/concerns to yourself. This is an important experience for everyone and the less uncertainty there is, the better. Your doula can help ease your mind if you are transparent with each other.
• Meet with your doula after the birth. The labour and birth is not the only challenge facing new parents. Your doula will help you through those first few weeks as you transition into your fourth trimester.