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What Doulas Do

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People frequently ask me what a birth doula actually does, and my answer goes something like, “Well, it really depends. We tailor our services to each client’s particular needs, but basically we offer families professional support during pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum.”

While this answer does faithfully represent my services and dedication to individualized care, it does not always satisfy the inquiring mind that asked. Often what the person is really wondering about is the hands-on nitty-gritty of what I do when I’m at a birth. So, in an attempt to make my doula skills more transparent and understandable, here’s a list of things I typically do for clients who are in labor (please note that this is not a complete list, nor does it include the types of support offered during pregnancy or in the immediate postpartum):

  • I hold hands, ease fears, and normalize the birth process
  • I show you all the ways a birth ball can be your friend
  • I squeeze aching hips and apply counter-pressure to sore backs
  • I encourage partners to support the woman they love
  • I help you stay in the moment and take it one contraction at a time
  • I answer questions and provide reassurance
  • I fill the tub and get the shower ready
  • I laugh at your jokes and make some of my own
  • I encourage, encourage, encourage
  • If you hit “a wall,” I help you climb right on over it
  • I slow down communications with hospital staff and ask important questions
  • I respect any and all decisions you make (no judgment anywhere)
  • I remind the hospital staff of your hopes and preferences
  • I guide you on how to use your breath during contractions
  • I listen with compassion to what you and your partner are thinking and feeling
  • I massage your shoulders and help you release tension
  • I suggest positions that help labor progress
  • I put heating pads and ice packs where you want them most
  • I dig into acupressure points and give awesome foot rubs
  • I check in with you to see what’s working and what’s not
  • I help to create a positive birth atmosphere
  • I inform you on the risks and benefits of various medical procedures
  • I provide evidence based information so you can make informed choices
  • I quench dry mouths with water and get food for hungry tummies
  • I strive to help you reach your childbirth goals
  • I know my way around a hospital room and can find things quick
  • If you’re using a particular childbirth preparation method, I use it too
  • I let you know about potential alternatives to medical interventions
  • If something doesn’t go as planned, I help you ease into and accept this change
  • I offer partners much needed breaks
  • I mop sweaty brows with cool wet towels
  • I dim lights, get warm blankets, and hush beeping machines
  • I use positions and rebozo to get babies in a good spot
  • I offer soothing words and visualizations to help you sink in
  • I suggest a variety of positions for the pushing phase of labor
  • I take photos so you’ll have visual memories of this life-changing event
  • I stay up all night until your baby is born

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