Doulas are women who are trained to provide physical and emotional support to women in labor. Pregnant women who work with doulas often have better experiences in childbirth. You can hire a doula through a doula program that exists to provide services to expectant mothers and their families. Here are four things you can expect when you decide to hire a doula.
1. Pre-Labor Consultation
Before you go into labor, you'll want the opportunity to meet your doula. The doula-patient relationship begins while you're still expecting. You will have a consultation with a qualified doula who will discuss your birth plan with you. You can set your expectations during this time, and your doula will let you know how they plan to help you.
2. Uninterrupted Care
It's not uncommon for a woman's labor to last several hours. If you choose to labor in a hospital or birth center, you may have several nurses, doctors, and midwives caring for you during this time. Labor can make a woman feel vulnerable, and receiving care from strangers can intensify this feeling. A doula is there to provide emotional support. The doula you work with will be with you throughout your labor. They're on your team. They won't take turns with someone you don't know, so you will have uninterrupted care from someone familiar.
3. Pain Management
Some women choose to have unmedicated labor. Even women who decide to accept pain medication should try to rely on it as little as possible. Doulas can provide non-medical assistance with pain management. Holistic methods of pain relief, such as vocalization and massage, can be useful for quelling discomfort during labor. A doula can offer a massage to help you relax though your contractions. They can also provide counterpressure to relieve the pain of back labor.
4. Postpartum Care
Your relationship with your doula doesn't necessarily end once you give birth. After your labor, your body will continue to recover for some time. It can take a few weeks for your uterus to fully expel all the afterbirth, and you will experience additional contractions during this time as your uterus shrinks to its usual size. A knowledgeable doula can assure you that the physical changes you experience are a normal, healthy part of the process. If necessary, they can refer you to a doctor or midwife for medical concerns. You'll have your hands full with your little one after you give birth, so it can be comforting to have a doula attend to your needs.
To learn more, contact a resource that offers doula program services.