Wednesday, March 19, 2014

5 Things a Doula Can Do For You

Behind the calm exterior of a doula is a person who is constantly thinking, strategizing and endeavoring to create an environment to support a pregnant, birthing or postpartum family.

Newborn with father

If you live in a metropolitan area, you probably have heard of doulas and know what they do. You may even be acquainted with a doula or two. It is a profession that has grown in the last two decades. Doulas provide supportive, non-clinical care that leads to improved birth outcomes and patient satisfaction. They have a different role from midwives, who are responsible for the health of women and infants.

Doulas are usually exceptionally caring people who have special knowledge and skills to assist families in pregnancy, childbirth and afterwards. A doula’s most valuable skill is listening and being present for the client’s needs. Behind that calm doula exterior is a person who is constantly thinking, strategizing and endeavoring to create an environment to support a pregnant, birthing or postpartum family.

Here are five things doulas can do for you:

  1. Doulas anticipate, smoothen and normalize transitions. Beginning a family or adding a new member is both a joy and a challenge.
  2. Doulas have a large array of comfort measures to offer. There are many evidence-based, non-pharmacological, common-sense ways to cope with discomfort.
  3. Doulas help you stick with your plan. The goal is that you feel respected, cared for and listened to during the process. Even if your plans and wishes change.
  4. Doulas are like glue: They fill in wherever it’s necessary. Doulas can help you take charge when you need them to or blend into the background when it’s all going the direction in which you hoped.
  5. Doulas understand complex environments. Hospitals and medical centers, where most people give birth, are complicated places. Doulas work to create collaboration and focus on your wishes and plans. At home after the baby, doulas help visitors and family members find helpful roles as your family adjusts.

— By Annie Kennedy, director of the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations at Bastyr University, with programs in the Seattle and San Diego areas. 

FALL 2014
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