YOU ARE NOT ALONE
THE 2018 ULTIMATE DOULA GUIDE
By the end of the guide, you’ll learn...
HOW DO I FIGURE OUT WHAT I WANT
Whether it’s a home birth, hospital birth, or birth center, the first step to creating any birth plan you desire is first being crystal clear on your options!
Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves at a stage in pregnancy where we’re struggling to identify what it is we truly want. If you're trying to conceive, or in your first trimester, or due in just a few weeks, you’re stuck in the grey zone of “I don’t know what I want” land. - And boy, is that a painful place to be.
The good news is that a doula can help you find clarity, fast.
Do you have a fantastic doula? Are you considering hiring a doula? Are you completely clueless and thinking, “adou-what?” It’s okay, I had no idea what a Doula was three years ago and to be honest, it wasn’t until I introduced myself to 7000 people who were planning to watch my birth live that I started researching all things, Doula.
"I had one for my second birth that still ended up a c-section and it was beyond worth it. I won't birth again without my doula. Even if it's c-section number 3. It'll be worth it."
Note: This article is intended as general information only and is not intended to serve as medical advice or as a substitute for your health care provider.
Did you decide to have a home birth? Great, that’s your plan A… but what about your plan B and C? What if something comes up and you need to give birth in the hospital?
- Do you want an IV?
- Are you open to Pitocin?
- They say your labor isn’t progressing… how would you like to proceed?
- It looks like the baby needs some help getting out, we are going to do __________. Is that what you want?
- We are going to take you back for a cesarean… what are your options in the operating room?
How much have you prepared for your birth? Did you spend more time (and money) planning for your wedding than you have your childbirth?
Are you going to do whatever your provider or the ones closest to you tell you to do? *top secret* You Have Rights! Do you know the difference between “tradition suggestions,” “scare tactics,” and the latest evidenced-based information?
"I felt more confident because she was able to answer all of my questions and give me resources whenever I needed them."
When our members are looking to hire a Doula, BirthTUBE offers support, assistance and reassurance from the start of your search to the end of your hiring needs. We have exceptional Doulas who are thoroughly screened and personally matched to your needs in order to find the best fit for each family and BirthTUBE Doula.
Get Matched with a Doula
The truth is, most people are not willing to learn updated evidence-based information and as a result, your putting yourself, your baby and your birth experience in serious jeopardy. Feeling overwhelmed?
I have an all-natural, home remedy solution just for you. A Doula!
"Our Doula was so great and calm when things started to get a little hectic. She calmly explained to me what was going on and that really helped me not completely freak out!"
You can find a Doula near you who studies this stuff for a living… and you can book a consultation from the comfort of your own home – and PJs!
WHAT DO PEOPLE REALLY THINK OF DOULAS?
“Like travel guides in a foreign country, birth and postpartum doulas help support new families through the life-changing experience of having a baby!”
- DONA (Doulas of North America)
HOLD UP - WHAT'S A DOULA?
Doulas have been supporting families for ages, but you might just now be hearing about Doula support. Why? Information is becoming more readily available, and more studies on the positive impact a Doula can have on your birth experience are being released. One study found that between 2006 and 2013, the number of women reporting the use of doulas had doubled. – I’d be interested to see what the numbers are now.
The meaning of the word ‘Doula’ – pronounced ‘doo-la’ – is a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant or caregiver.’ The definition of a doula has evolved over many years and can mean different things to different people and cultures, although it always roots back to providing care.
Hear me out for one sec – you are going to hear “doulas provide emotional, physical and informational support a 100 times both online, and guilty, in this guide. I feel like that is such a blanket statement.
+ Doulas are more than counter pressure.
+ Doulas are more than a shoulder to cry on.
+ Doulas provide more than information.
Yes, your Doula is all of those things, but she is that and so much more.
Here is my modern interpretation.
In modern-day birth settings, where particular policies guide healthcare professionals, a huge gap is created between an expecting family and their caregiver. Discussing options available during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is not often something that happens with true informed consent and exploration of risks and benefits. Your Birth Doula has your family’s best interests in mind. Their primary responsibility is to you, not to a hospital, doctor, midwife or nurse. They are there to bridge the gap by providing guidance, evidence-based information, non-judgemental emotional support, and physical support to assist your family with their unique birth goals.
"The nurse was trying to talk me into getting an epidural the whole time, but my doula continued to encourage me." - BirthTUBE Member
For more detailed information about what a Doula is, check out THIS blog post on our BirthTUBE Live site, titled “What’s a Doula?”
NOT SURE WHAT TYPE OF DOULA SUPPORT IS FOR YOU? HERE’S HOW I DECIDED
Birth Doulas help to prepare you for the possibilities of what may happen during labor and delivery. Your Doula will not speak to the medical staff on your behalf. Instead, your Doula will provide information and evidence-based resources before your birth so that you will be prepared to navigate and negotiate your options.
Worth repeating… What’s your plan A? Okay, now what if a medical situation comes up, what’s your plan B? Epidural? IV? Sweep? Vacuum? Episiotomy? Shower? Pitocin?
Your Doula is there with you to discuss options on the spot, as needed and may remind you of your original goals if your birth begins to go in a direction away from those. Your doula can help you know alternative options, can help you explore the risks and benefits of opportunities along the way. Do you want someone there to hold your hand through every informed choice you make?
Your doula will help empower you to advocate for yourself and your desired birth experience.
Some Doulas are qualified and trained in additional special services so that they may offer additional support. (see the list of special Doula services.)
What does a birth doula do during a birth?
Doulas are trained to provide you with information to help you gain a deeper understanding of all your options. Most doulas are walking birth encyclopedias; they can help you understand procedures, prepare for possible complications, discuss interventions, answer questions, explore fears, and work to eliminate doubts and concerns. On top of meeting in-person to prepare for your birth, most doulas offer phone call/text support, as needed, leading up to your labor and delivery.
Your Birth Doula may:
+ Provide resources to explore birth options
+ Assist you in developing a “birth plan,” if desired
+ Be available during pregnancy to answer questions or provide resources
+ Attend your labor and delivery
+ Suggest laboring positions
+ Encourage relaxation
+ Provide guidance
+ Physically comfort you
+ Provide reassurance
+ Encourage you
+ Give you information on options when things change
+ Support your partner so they can better support you
+ Remind you to eat & drink
+ Provide sibling adjustment support
+ Assist with initial infant feeding; some specially trained to help initiate breastfeeding
+ …and much more.
I want to hire a birth doula, now what?
1. Find and hire a Birth Doula near you. Most parents hire their Birth Doula support a few months before their estimated due date/month. Not sure where to look to find a Doula close to you? Check out the BirthTUBE Doula Directory.
2. Discuss your options and map out your “birth plan.” (I like to call them ‘birth goals’) –
3. When you feel you are in labor, your Doula is a phone call/text away. Not sure if you are in labor or if it’s another false alarm? With the support of your doula, you two can determine it is indeed baby time. Are you in labor? Congrats, call your Doula! Your Doula will be with you every step of the way.
Your Doula is trained to know birth inside and out and is hired to help support you in your journey into motherhood.
o "My doula was there to support me through my whole pregnancy, labor and postpartum. We had two prenatal visits, she was there for 6 hours of my labor and came to visit when my daughter was two weeks old to help us with tips on how to adjust to being home and help with any questions + lactation support."
o "She gave me so many coping methods and she was really amazing at her job. I had no medication. It was amazing."
o "During labor she was able to help my husband support me and remind him of what I wanted and the things he could do."
o "I had my partner coaching me and holding my hand, doula doing hip compressions, and my mom pouring water down my back. I felt like I had a secret weapon in my back pocket.. anytime something wasn’t working our doula had another idea or something new to try."
Doulas are trained to provide you with an inventory of resources before your birth, so if a complication or needed change does arise, you will have the tools you need to make an educated decision and support to go with it.
GIVE ME THE STATS, STAT
Here are the combined results from studies done between 1970-2017 on the benefits of continuous support for women during childbirth. Read the breakdown of a couple of the most famous studies below.
+ Shorter delivery
+ Fewer complications
+ Less likely to have an epidural
+ Lesser use of fetal extraction tools (vacuum/forceps)
+ Less neonatal time in NICU
+ Positive psychological benefits for mothers
+ More satisfying birth experiences
+ Higher breastfeeding success rate
+ Increase confidence, lesser desire/need for interventions
+ Less pain experienced
+ Reduced stress and anxiety during labor
+ Increased opportunity to experience the benefits of oxytocin naturally without the use of medication – “the attachment between the birthing person and doula which can lead to an increase in oxytocin, the hormone that promotes labor contractions.” Theory by Dr. Amy Gilliland
+ Women with less education, lower incomes, less preparation for childbirth, and those lacking social support may experience more significant benefits from doula care than other groups.
Over the years, studies on the benefits of women who had continuous labor support during labor and delivery have been reported. Some of the Doula stats you see floating around the ‘good-ole’ internet look amazing- might even blow your socks off!
When looking at research studies, it’s important to keep an eye out for the quality, date published and what past/current reviews have said about such topic.
For example, the most popular doula stats are from the book Mothering the Mother by Marshall Klaus, Phyllis Klaus, and John Kennell published in 1993. In 2017 Cochran released an update on the most extensive systematic review of continuous labor support, but the study received a “low grade.”*
(note: they never say the word Doula; instead they use the term “continuous support”)
1993 – Mothering the Mother Doula Stats
decreases the overall cesarean rate
reduction of Pitocin
reduction of forceps
reduction of pain medication
reduction for request of epidural
AMAZING BENEFITS YOU CAN SMELL FROM MILES AWAY
In 2017, Bohren et al. published an updated Cochrane review about ‘Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth.’
The data collected and analyzed was from 26 trials involving 15,858 women in 17 different countries. Of those 26 studies, 13 were in high‐income settings, 13 were in middle‐income settings, and no studies in low‐income backgrounds.
The study concluded women who received continuous support during labor and delivery were:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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Choose The Doula That's Right For You
Written and edited by:
- Part-time nerd, a full-time mother, Paige LoPinto is the Founder of BirthTUBE. After spending my entire first pregnancy watching Birth Videos, the term “explore your options” has never sounded more familiar.