What is a Birth Doula?
Let's just skip the textbook answer that you found on google, shall we?
I like to say I am your "birth nerd bestie." I am here for you at any point during your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum journey to provide inclusive, evidence-based, non-judgmental support.
Let's face it, sometimes our friends and family give terrible advice and "words of wisdom" that are often rooted in trauma, misinformation, or is simply outdated. I've got your back (literally)!
Aside from the incredible informational support doulas provide, I will also be by your side during labour and birth to help you manage pain, positioning, decision-making, and maximizing use of the tools that are available to you. Afterwards, I visit you at home to offer helping hands and guidance in your brand new role as parents.
I am equally supportive to your partner, ensuring their needs are being met and allowing them to be present with you throughout this process.
What Doulas Do: -provide emotional, physical and informational support -use comfort measures and coping practices to support you in labour and birth -provide you with evidence-based information -continuously reassure, support, and comfort you during labour, birth, and immediate postpartum -help you become informed about the risks and benefits of various birth options -help you to achieve your birth preferences by empowering you prenatally, and helping to facilitate communication between you and your care providers -look after your partner during labour, allowing them to recharge and rest when needed
What Doulas Don't Do: -perform clinical tasks such as vaginal exams, blood pressure, or fetal heart monitoring -speak on your behalf to your care provider or hospital staff -make decisions for you -give medical advice or diagnose conditions -judge you for decisions that you make -pressure you into making any decisions -take over the role of your partner -deliver your baby -discriminate based on gender identity, sexual orientation, age, race, marital status
Our Scope of Practice
What is the difference between a midwife and a doula?
Midwives are highly trained and skilled medical caregivers and replace a physician or obstetrician for normal pregnancy and birth. A doula fills a support role.
Doulas work as part of a team with doctors or midwives, but do not replace them. It is outside of a doula's scope of practice to attend births as a primary care-provider, as they offer non-medical support and comfort measures. Doulas do not "catch babies." They do not perform clinical care such as heart rate, blood pressure, or internal exams, whereas midwives do.
What difference does the presence of a doula have on my birth outcome?
Research shows the presence of a doula results in shorter labours with fewer complications, a reduction in the need for oxytocin, forceps or vacuum extraction, fewer cesareans, and a reduction in requests for pain medication. When a doula is present during and after childbirth, people report greater satisfaction with their birth experience and make more positive assessments of their babies. This is because doulas help educate you prenatally to make informed decisions and support you through the experience. **These are statistics and every birth is unique. Having a doula doesn't guarantee you a specific birth outcome. When birthers feel safe, heard, and supported, trauma is reduced and birth satisfaction increases - regardless of birth outcome (medicated, unmedicated, caesarean, etc).
How does my partner fit into this? Does a doula replace them?
Absolutely not! You partner is an important, valued, and integral part of your birth team. Your partner may really want to be involved. Maybe they don’t. Maybe they really can’t visualize it and don’t know where they fit in? It’s a very common concern that having a doula might feel like your partner is being replaced or that it might minimize their ability to be involved. It’s quite the opposite, in fact! We support your partner to be involved in the birth to the extent they feel comfortable. We compliment and enhance your partner’s 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.
While most people hire a doula for the birth support, we are also very skilled at offering a safe space to voice concerns and fears; supporting both of you with thoughtful education, evidence-based information, and a compassionate ear. Your partner is not experienced and passionate about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum in the way a doula is - nor would it be reasonable to expect them to be!
Your partner may see you working through the intensity of labour and feel compelled to make it stop, or "fix it." This is a normal stress response to witnessing someone you love experience something challenging. Remember, they are also having their own intense internal experience and are also about to become a parent! The presence of a doula allows the partner to offer support without any pressure; to be present for you in the moment while also giving themselves space to have their own support needs met. We are experienced in labour and birth and normalize the process for you both; reducing fear, stress, and anxiety. Birth rarely follows the plan you had envisioned and we are there to help you navigate these changes and challenges.
During your prenatal meeting, roles regarding everyone's involvement will be defined together, with both of you having a say in what feels right.
Will a doula support me if I have an epidural?
You bet I will! My role as your doula is to help you feel empowered, informed, and supported - no matter what type of birth you are planning. People who have medicated births need as much support as those who have unmedicated births. To be frank, sometimes choices go out the window with birth. Doulas can bridge the gaps that medication may not cover and help support you in the presence of interventions. We also help keep you in active positions, even with an epidural, to keep labour progressing. Doulas are well versed in all things medical AND non-medical. Should your plans change, I’ll help you make informed decisions along the way with full support and a compassionate approach. Regardless of how you bring your baby into the world, I am there for you!
What is our "team work" model of support?
Team work makes the dream work! For eight years, until end of 2023, we worked together as a shared-care team; sharing all of our clients and using a rotating on-call schedule. Since then, life’s demands have changed and we have pivoted to offer a different style of support! We have shifted our model of care with Kayla now acting as primary Doula and Erin as relief/back-up Doula. This means that Kayla will be your main point of contact and will be the doula who you communicate with and who will plan to attend your birth.
Birth is unpredictable and can be longer than anticipated. In this situation, Kayla can call on Erin for relief so she can take a break. Erin will have access to your file, any notes I’ve taken, and your birth preferences. If you are taking our Birth Prep Workshop, you will spend quality time with both of us. Each of us has an amazing variety of training and certifications which complement our support role and we support our clients with a very similar approach and style.
Does a doula speak on my behalf during labour and birth?
Doulas will never speak for you or on your behalf. I will empower and educate you prenatally and assists with communication, but not speak on your behalf. During your birth, I may remind or encourage you to ask the questions necessary to understand a procedure and make an informed decision. I do not make decisions for clients or intervene in clinical care, nor do I judge your choices.
What happens if I have a caesarean birth?
Whether planned or unplanned, I will help you mentally prepare for surgery while providing comfort, support, and encouragement. A caesarean birth is usually an unexpected situation and new parents are left feeling unprepared, disappointed, and lonely. I will support you before going into the operating room, in the recovery room, and postpartum.
I have heard that doulas and nurses don't get along? Is this true?
Doulas do not replace nurses or other medical professionals, but rather, work as part of the team. I am there to comfort and support you and your partner. Your nurse and primary care provider are there ensure you have a safe and healthy birth and baby. I am there to make sure your needs are being met. We have incredible respect for your health care team and enjoy working alongside them.
Why hire a doula rather than simply inviting a friend/family member?
This is a very personal choice. But I’m guessing that if you’re here on our website, you don’t feel that inviting your friends/family members is the right choice for you. We are an integrated part of your health care team and are professionals, trained in pain-reducing comfort measures, natural methods to keep labour progressing, and knowledge on how to support both the labouring person and their partner. Doulas are familiar with local hospital and midwifery policies and practices, and have often built a rapport with the staff. We are experienced in childbirth and can offer reassurance through evidence-based information in times of doubt.