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We have all heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Oddly, just as much I have come to realize and believe it takes a village to raise a parent. In digging deeper into this concept, I want to explore different professionals that can be a part of your village as a mom. You know to call the pediatrician if your little one is ill or the lactation consultant with breastfeeding questions. But what about you? When it comes to health and wellness, the ultimate decision of who provides your care is up to you. In this series, I want to share your various options with you so that you can make an informed decision.
In Part 5 of this series, we hear from Sara on doulas.
Sara is a DONA certified doula and part of the wonderful network of doulas in my community. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have had a doula present at the births of both of our girls.
1. What is a doula?
Short version? A Doula is a, “Woman who serves”. A Doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during, and after the birth.
What does being a Doula mean to me? I love working with families. Doula work is not just about the birth for me, Doula work is about experiencing the transformation of a pregnant woman becoming a mother. Doula work is also about holding that sacred space for a woman during her labor and birth. Being a Doula is an honor.
2. How is a doula certified?
You do not actually have to be a certified Doula to attend to a woman at a birth. You just need to be a compassionate woman willing to help. That being said, if you want to be a Birth Professional and be seen as a Trained Professional, certification helps you gain that role. Being certified with a credited organization also gives you support through CEU’s, publications, support from other professionals, workshops, and access to great information.
I chose Doulas of North America (DONA) International as my certifying organization. I stand behind their Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. They are an international organization with great support.
Becoming a certified Birth Doula requires you attend DONA Birth Doula training, Childbirth Education classes, a Breastfeeding class, attend 3 births with positive evaluations from the mother, a caregiver (Doctor or Midwife), and a nurse. You then take a test and are interviewed by DONA. I have to re-certify every 3 years with so many CEU’s, attend at least one birth per year, and pay an annual membership fee. You have 2 years to complete the process form the time you attend your Doula training.
3. Why would I have a doula?
The main reason why my clients want to have a Doula as part of their birth team is to have a person that is familiar with birth and hospital procedures. (Note: most of my work is in the hospitals. I do have the privilege of attending a few homebirths).
Someone that can explain to them what their options are, the advantages and disadvantages of those options so the mother can make an informed choice. A Doula knows this mom from prenatal visits and has developed a relationship with her. The Doula knows what her goals are and can help her keep on track with those goals.
4. What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?
A midwife is a caregiver, a Doula is NOT. A Doula does NOT do medical tasks, OR make decisions for the mother.
5. Can a doula be in the hospital with me during birth?
Yes, in fact many local hospitals in the area I work in Minnesota have had doulas present for births. I try very hard to keep communicating with medical staff to make sure they understand my role as a Doula and that I am there to be an advocate for my client.
6. Do I have to want a natural birth to have a doula? What if I need a c-section?
No matter what the outcome or goals of the mother…every mother deserves support during her labor and birth, no matter what that looks like.
7. Does a doula take the place of my husband/partner during birth?
Absolutely not! We cannot replace that role. A partner knows the mother more than we ever can and is a vital and important person on that special day. A Doula enhances that relationship by being that partners “eyes and ears”.
8. What can I expect from a doula?
Each Doula has her own style. I provide a free interview, 2 prenatal visits, labor and birth support, 2 postpartum visits, unlimited email and phone support.
You should expect professionalism, open communication, your personal information kept confidential, good working relationship with medical staff, and a passion for helping families.
9. How do I find a doula and how do I pick one?
Online, at birthing/baby events, ask your caregiver if she/he is worked with a Doula, and interview many…you want to make sure you “click” with that person for such an important experience.
Talk to your friend and peers that have worked with a Doula. Find out about their experience if they are willing to share.
You can checkout my blog or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions you may have.
Know that you do not have to be a first-time mom to work with a Doula. I once had a client that hired me for baby number 6 and 7 (twins, fun!) and she said she wished she had a Doula for every one of her births.
Thank you for this opportunity to talk about Doulas!
*Please note the answers to this interview is my opinion and not of DONA or any other Doula in the Duluth, MN area.