What is a doula?
Historically, the word doula comes from the Greek. The term describes the doula as a trusted servant trained to assist in childbirth. Although this kind of support has been shared in childbirth since the beginning of time, it wasn't until the late 1960s when the word became a greater part of the modern-day birthing community.
In today's terms, a doula is trained to provide continuous educational, physical, and emotional assistance to families as they journey through their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences. The doula will help the family prepare for what to expect on their journey. They will have resources available, so their clients have access to the information they need to make the best decisions for their family. A doula will help their clients to knowledgeably advocate for their desired birth experience. A Birth Doula offers non-clinical pregnancy, labor and some immediate postpartum support. A postpartum doula will be there in the days after birth to assist the family through their transition once home.
What are the benefits of having a doula?
“Families who use birth doulas are more satisfied with their birth experience, require fewer interventions during labor and delivery, and have higher rates of breastfeeding than families without doula support.”
The family who is continuously supported by a birth doula experiences a:
Additionally, a family with doula support also experiences:
Updated review from ACOG:
“Given [the] benefits and the absence of demonstrable risk, patients, obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers...may want to develop programs and policies to integrate trained support personnel into the intrapartum care environment to provide continuous one-to-one emotional support to [families] women undergoing labor.“ — Committee Opinion: Approaches to Limit Intervention During Labor and Birth, ACOG 2017
 Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;10:CD003766.”
Does a doula only support natural or home birth?
No. A doula is trained to SUPPORT the family in THEIR choices. Together they will go over any questions or concerns, so the family can find the style of care that best supports their beliefs. A doula is trained to support all types of birth including home births, birth center births, hospital births, and cesarean births. Your doula can prepare you to ask the right questions, so you can be sure you receive the kind of care you desire regardless of how your labor and birth presents itself.
A doula is also trained to provide support in all types of hospital births including inductions and should medicinal pain relif be desired. A doula can be especially helpful in the event of a cesarean. Emotional and psychological support before and during the birth go a long way and help with pumping, feeding, and initially caring for the newborn can be invaluable. Depending on the hospital and the reason for the cesarean, the family may still have time to bond and breastfeed before leaving the operating room if the situation allows.
I’ve had a baby before. Should I still use a doula?
Yes! Every birth is different as many people will tell you. A doula is someone who is trained to work in all types of birth situations. This means they will be able to offer families well-rounded, supportive care because they truly are prepared for anything. By the time labor comes along, you will have discussed varying possible birth scenarios and your wishes in the event of such circumstances. You will have gone over what comfort measures might work best for labor and possible alternatives. You would not journey through the Himalayas without a sherpa! In the same sense, you should have a guide, helper, someone who is trained in the path, to take alongside you. While your primary care providers, nurses, and medical staff take care of all medical needs, the doula is focused on easing the family through the various physical, psychological, and emotional transitions of labor and birth. This can be important in preserving the positive atmosphere of the birth room, as well as the family’s memory of this significant time in their lives.
Remember, the birth is just one aspect of what a doula does. This is the moment all the preparation leads up to. By the time the birth happens, you will have had consultations, phone support, and unlimited email/text support. Consider it all an investment into being as prepared as possible for the birth event ahead and preserving the memory of your experiences.
I will have my partner (insert friend or family member) with me. Should I still use a doula?
Yes! It's important to speak with your doula early on about how the family envisions the role of each person in the birth room. Some partners are very hands on and others want to keep water glasses filled, grab cooling packs, etc. There is no right or wrong here because this is all about what works best to get the family through labor and birth.
The partner, parent, and other birth companions will be in a unique position because of their special connection as a family unit. These people already love, support, and believe in you. Their care, concern, and love for you will be greatly needed on your birthing day. Being outside the client's immediate social network allows the doula to be in a unique position as well. The birth environment has a lot of things going on. The doula will help interpret for the family what is happening, as it happens if needed. The partner will be able to stay present and not be distracted by the routines of the birthing space. Things can happen rather quickly in labor, and the doula can help the family through transitions that can occur with such changes. The doula gently orchestrates for the family what is needed to provide a sense of safety, confidence, understanding, and control. The doula will be there to offer suggestions to the birth partner(s), support the team as a unit, and can step in, if needed.
I already have a Doctor, Midwife, etc. Should I still use a doula?
Yes! A doula does not offer medical advice or perform any clinical care. The doula is there to provide the family with non-clinical pregnancy, labor, and postpartum support.
In pregnancy, the doula will help the family prepare for their birth by helping them ask the right questions and find evidence-based information, so they can receive the type of maternity care that best fits their beliefs.
In labor, your primary care providers will not be there the full extent of your labor. Your doula will come out and support you before you get to your birthing location. As things progress and your team arrives, the doula is there to translate what is happening, as it happens. The doula will meet the emotional and physical needs that come up with the changing dynamics of the birthing space. There will be times when the doula will know when to suggest changing labor positions, offer cool or hot compresses, offer massage, apply hip squeezes, and understand what type of breathing may complement each stage of labor. This is all just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many ways for a doula to support a family!
Why should I get a massage?
In the simplest terms, we get oil changes and rotate tires regularly to ensure a vehicle runs smoothly and in a balanced fashion. In the same way, receiving regular massages will help keep your body running in a smooth and balanced manner.
A good massage therapist will be able to help you work through specific problem areas. They will also help you by being able to catch physical imbalances when they are in their early stages. This can help prevent regular flare-ups of your problem areas. Consider getting a massage as regular maintenance to keep things running smoothly. Come in for a massage! We'll discuss your therapeutic goals and how to make them happen for you.
What kind of massage is right for me?
In the most general terms, people turn to massage for two reasons. One reason is for relaxation and the other is for corrective therapy.
The first reason is a need or desire for relaxation. Everyone needs a break to find stillness and quiet. A nice, relaxing massage can be the perfect escape from life's daily grind. A massage specially designed for relaxation purposes generally uses a more medium to light pressure. However, it's always good to voice what may work best to relax you because different clients have different opinions on what relaxes them. All types of massage increase circulation, serotonin and endorphin levels. This can lessen symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, depression, and low energy. This can be the perfect stress relief when life gets busy.
The other reason people turn to massage is for corrective therapeutic purposes. If your body needs a little more than just pampering, corrective therapy may be right for you. There are so many modalities geared at helping you find relief. It may be that some scar tissue has built up from an old injury and is restricting your range of movement. Perhaps you suffer from tension headaches or migraines. Sometimes you can pull a muscle, have spasms or cramps. Corrective therapy aims to seek out the origins of the body's physical imbalances and uses advanced techniques to help relieve them.
How often should I get a massage?
We can discuss your goals and assess the level of tension in your body. I have clients that come weekly and others who come every six weeks. The regularity with which you can use a massage will depend on your personal level of activity, the types of activities you do daily, and the condition of your body. It's possible a client may need a couple of sessions closer together to help correct an issue when they begin coming. This is known as the rehabilitation period. As recovery sets in, we can set your sessions a certain number of weeks apart that works comfortably for you. If you feel like you need to come in before then, call and move your appointment up. If the date is approaching and you are still feeling great, we can move it out a couple of weeks. The goal is to get you in before the pain comes back. It's important to catch tension early and not wait until it's a bigger problem. This is how we'll begin to find how often your body can use a massage.
What can I expect to feel like after my massage?
At the end of your session, I will offer you a bottle of water. This is because massage in any form helps to release toxins from the muscles and begins a detoxification process in your body. It's important that you help facilitate and move along this natural process in the body. I recommend being mindful of having proper hydration, particularly for the next 24 hours. Even drinking a little more than usual would be helpful to flush out toxins from the body. You can also sit in a sauna, hot tub, take a steaming shower, or Epsom salt bath. All these things will assist your body's natural detoxification process.
Be aware of what your body has told you about your physical stress and tension through the massage. You can do gentle stretching to the areas that may have been worked more than others. Be mindful of what types of activities cause you stress and physical pain.
It is possible to become sore in areas where deeper pressure was applied. This is possible if you’ve requested pressure that’s more firm than usual, or if you’re not accustomed to receiving massages regularly. This is why it is important to let your therapist know if the pressure is ever too much. A good therapist will be able to find a comfortable pressure that is still productive. Communicate with your therapist openly about any questions you may have. Your session does not end when you walk out the door!