What is a birth doula? Well if you’ve read my Doula? pages then you should know in general what the job of a birth doula, in general what they do, and why you should have one, so I won’t reiterate it here.
What I plan on talking about here is what we have learned to become great birth doulas. First we were given the definition of a birth doula:
A professional support person trained in the needs of the family during pregnancy and childbirth. A person who offers non-judgmental support, guidance, evidence based education and practical hands-on support during childbirth including comfort measures. A birth doula recognizes the profound impact of childbirth on the mother.
Then we talk about advocacy.
Advocacy in all its forms seeks to ensure that people, particularly those who are most vulnerable in society, are able to:
- Have their voice heard on issues that are important to them.
- Defend and safeguard their rights.
- Have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about their lives.
Advocacy is a process of supporting and enabling people to:
- Express their views and concerns.
- Access information and services.
- Defend and promote their rights and responsibilities.
- Explore choices and options
All of these can be achieved by education during prenatal appointments. These are where choices, fears, concerns, common interventions, typical services provided by care providers, and evidence based information is revealed.
What we don’t do:
- Speak on behalf of our client
- Tell the client not to listen to their care provider
- Preform medical tasks
Then there’s the fact based evidence about the positive affects of having a birth doula at birth. Such as the fact that they lessen your chance of having a cesarean, decrease pain during birth, make your birth shorter, and help you feel better/ more in control of your birth.
After we all read about the above information we are sent into the real meat of the program, but first I’d like to reflect.
I think that the definition given is a little bit too long for an elevator pitch situation. I personally like to say that “as a birth doula I empower women to make evidence based decisions and then honor their wishes.” What does this mean to me? I want woman to be able to look back on their child’s births with pleasure and contentment. Their births may not have gone to plan but they felt human and cared for throughout the whole process.
My definition or ‘saying’ also ties into the advocacy portion of our job. Let’s be real: Advocacy is our job. Via education and allowing the laboring woman a voice in the birthing room, we complete our mission. Our goal isn’t to contradict a care provider, but to translate for the soon-to-be parents and let them take the time to make decisions about procedures. Allowing the mother as much control as possible, when her body is doing things without her, will let her look back in the many years to come with positivity, joy, and empowerment.
That’s all for now, I’ll go into the meat of the birth doula process next time.