"A doula provides informational, emotional, and physical support."
"Doulas support your choices during pregnancy, labor, and birth."
"A doula serves as an advocate for laboring women and their families."
But what does a doula actually do during labor?
Laboring in your own home is most comforting for most women. In a familiar environment, your body can relax and be free to move. A doula adds another dimension to laboring at home in that she can show you different positions or movements to increase your comfort level. Doulas can also help you decide with your partner when it seems to be a good time to travel to the hospital you have chosen for delivery.
The transition to the hospital can sometimes be stressful on a mother, even causing her labor to slow down for a period of time. Having a doula with you can help ease this transition and get you back into your rhythm. Once you've settled into your room she can remind you of the things that worked well for you at home. She will bring her "tools of the trade" to add some of the comforts of home into the hospital environment. These can include battery powered candles, stress balls, massage tools, heating pads, and more.
The most important tool a doula can bring into a birthing space is her hands. Drawing from her training and experience, a doula will often times know what you need before you know you need it - just from watching your labor progress. She will squeeze your hips, put counter pressure on your back, and wipe your brow just when you need it the most. The beat of your heart will become the rhythm in her hands as she encourages you to sway or bounce on a birthing ball.
Doulas know that the most important person on your team is your partner. Your partner was there for you long before your doula and they will be with you long after your doula leaves. Doulas can help your partner to be empowered to support you and feel confident in the comfort he or she gives. Let's be honest, squeezing hips and doing counter pressure can get very tiring after a while. A doula can show your partner the right spot and the right pressure to give you relief, while she takes a break to help you breathe or chant.
After your baby is born, she will share in your joy. She will help you to bond with your baby and assist with the baby's first latch. She might snap a few pictures with your phone so that you and your partner can just revel in the beauty of the new life you have created. Then, when all is quiet she will hug your neck, whisper "you did it!", and step back to let you begin your lives as new parents.