Since becoming a mom, I've been blessed to plug into a community of amazing women who are killing the mom-game. I know I talk about having a hard time making mom friends - and I do! In person, that is. Heather is part of a group of women who founded the largest online forum for cloth diaper laundry troubleshooting, and she's got two hilarious kids of her own. She's also a doula - Anchored Birth Services - and I reached out to her recently to learn more about what it takes to be a great doula. Grab a cuppa and "get comfy or get out", as Heather says.
What does a doula do?
Doulas provide informational, physical, and emotional support. A lot of birth work is keeping mom comfortable, helping the parents ask good questions so they feel confident in their decisions...and honestly? About 60% of what I do is holding that mom's hand and telling her she can totally do this.
Why should a birthing mom have a doula?
Studies have shown that birth satisfaction increases when woman have a doula. The reason for that high satisfaction rate is because doulas can help birthing moms feel good that the decisions they're making are the right decisions for them. Ultimately, that';s going to give you a better outcome for having a "good birth". No two births are the same, and they shouldn't be! I had two very medicalized birth experiences - probably that would be someone else's nightmare, but it's what I wanted for myself. Anecdotally, my clients with the most empowered and positive birth experiences also have easier recoveries, and easier time breastfeeding, and easier bonding with the baby.
What is your mission statement?
A birth you feel good about is a human right - not a privilege. I condensed that down to, "Doulas shouldn't be a luxury."
Do doctors and doulas get along?
Well, that depends on the doula (laughs)! Yes, your doula and your doctor can totally work together and be a great team. Doctors don't hate me, specifically, because I ask questions instead of make statements. I'll look at the obstetrician and say, "Can you speak to the risk of uterine rupture or placenta accreta with third c-sections?" No doctor has been dismissive or rude when I do that - I just make sure that they know that I know that they're the smartest one in the room.
How can you learn more about birth work or become a doula?
There are lots of certifying bodies and training programs you can look into. Even if you do a training, I recommend finding a mentor you can trust. Also, read everything you can - anything you can get your hands on. I'm a fan of ACOG papers, personally. And just talk to people. Listen to their experiences, listen to how they feel about their births.
What should I be reading to learn more?
Obviously, learn everything you can about the birth process. Stations and stages and the basic physiology of it. I'd also add that a good doula will know common pregnancy conditions and the recommended courses of management for each of those conditions. Things like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia - because then you can help your client ask smart questions to their providers.
What is the hardest part of being a doula?
Maybe this simplistic, but the lack of sleep and living on-call. It can be tricky figuring out the logistics of what to do with two kids. One time, my husband and I both got called in - he to his job and me by my client - and it was the middle of the night and we didn't know how we were going to make it work. But we did!
What's your favorite part of being a doula?
Birth work for me isn't about what I get out of it. I just feel super honored to have people trust me to guide them through this, and to be invited into such an intimate and sacred experience. It's just a huge honor to be involved at all.
Thanks for your time, Heather! It's always great to chat with you and I'm deeply appreciative of the time you've put in to help lay the foundation for my own work as a doula. Please like and share Heather's Facebook page, Anchored Birth Services, and consider the benefits of birth work!
Did you have a doula at your birth? Have you ever considered how they might make labor easier? Tweet any questions about doulas to me - @pi3sugarpi3.