A question or concern that comes up alot when considering hiring a doula is Does a doula replace my birth partner?
Unless this is the plan then absolutely not. If I’m asked this by potential clients my answer is always similar. If you intend on being an involved birth partner then it’s my pleasure to support you in being just that. I may be experienced in birth but you are experienced in the birthing mother, no one in the birth space shares the deep connection you have with her. A good doula takes nothing away from your connection or role in birth, quite the opposite, your doula prepares you to birth together if this is your wish and actually frees up space so that you can be what you wish to be during this most precious journey.
The role of a birth partner really begins in pregnancy. Think about what kind of birth partner you really wish to be for her so that you can meet your baby together in the most loving way possible. What can your doula do to help make space for this? Hold space, be on food and water duty, provide antenatal education, help you build a birth plan or teach you massage and comfort techniques, fill and empty the pool, provide loving support to the birthing mother while you rest? Remember that you may need to rest and replenish too! Your doula could tidy after the birth and prepare food for you both so that you can enjoy your golden hour together and beyond, there is just SO much a doula can do for you to take the pressure off of what it can sometimes feel to be the sole birth partner. The support and preparation a doula can offer is more vital now than ever in this strange birth landscape where additional support persons are still limited at most hospital or birth center settings.
It’s worth mentioning that while you might feel that you will have a lot of responsibility, the reality is that the dance of labour is not all action all of the time! There will be moments where all you can do is be. Be a gentle strong presence but ultimately the best thing we can do for a birthing person is to avoid disturbing them unnecessarily and to keep an oxytocin rich birth environment.
It can seem during the 10 moons of pregnancy that you have all the time in the world and that birth is far away, suddenly you realise that birth is imminent and that your love is depending on you to support her. It’s never too late to prepare to be the birth partner you really want to be but sooner is always better than later! Talk together about the birth and her wishes, how does she want to feel and what is she expecting from you? How do you feel? Be honest and open about any anxieties or feelings you have and Talk with your doula, she is here for you both. What do you need to put into place to make sure that the birthing mothers wishes are respected and that her voice is heard? What do you recognise as your limitations? Make a plan, make a plan B and know that your doula can help you find all you need to be the birth partner she deserves so that you may meet this baby in the most loving way possible. Your loving arms to lean on, an advocate when needed, adaptable and a true rockstar birth partner!