What’s a doula?

That’s one of the most common questions I’ve been asked in the past month as I start to share with people what my new path is. The other is this statement, “I should have hired a doula for my birth/s!”

How did I get here?

If you’ve been following me, I hired April to be our doula for the births of both girls. Olive was born in a hospital, Trixie at a birth center. April was instrumental in keeping my sanity together both times, guiding and directing my family as they supported me, becoming my focal point during transitional labor, and a supportive figure post partum.

Yes, we went to childbirth classes. Yes, I read every book and evidence-based resource I could find. The value of having her there was priceless.

Doulas “mother the mother.” *

• Provide emotional support
• Use comfort measures: breathing, relaxation, movement, positioning
• Give information
• Continuously reassures and comforts the mother (the key word is continuous—a doula never leaves the mother’s side)
• Helps a mother become informed about various birth choices
• Advocates for the mother and helps facilitate communication between the mother and care provider
• Looks after your partner as well (gives them bathroom breaks!), but their primary responsibility is to the mother
• Doulas are NOT medical professionals
• They do not perform clinical tasks such as vaginal exams or fetal heart monitoring
• They do not give medical advice or diagnose conditions
• They do not judge you for decisions that you make
• They do not take over the role of your husband or partner
• They do not deliver the baby

Studies demonstrate many medical benefits to those women who choose to be attended by a doula. The average length of labor is shortened, pain is reported as better controlled, the cesarean rate is lowered, occurrences of interventions such as pitocin and episiotomies are lowered. Most of these can be directly traced to the increased calm and security of the mom who is continuously attended throughout labor and delivery with both emotional and physical support It is also found that those mothers who have doulas recount a more positive birth experience overall and describe less postpartum anxiety as well as more enjoyment in their parenting afterward, due in part to their confidence gained during the birth process.

I wanted the least amount of medical interventions as possible. This is how I personally landed on hiring a doula. All the additional benefits reinforced my decision that I needed additional support – so that I didn’t kill Paul in the process.

How I decided to become one came after delivering at a birth center. I’ve always been drawn to helping others, and my employment history reflects this. There was also a time when I wanted to grow up and be an OB. (The long road of medical school and lack of academic support quickly changed that.)

It is amazing to witness the strength of a woman when she is preparing for and is in labor. It’s an honor to be a part of that experience and to be able to welcome her new baby along with her.

And I want to be a part of something that’s meaningful and long term. (Sitting at a desk all day in corporate America is not going to do it.)

So. Here I go. A new direction. I’m excited to share this here.



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