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What does a doula DO-la?

Updated: Mar 15

I mentioned that I was feeling sore after a birth to my father-in-law and he looked confused.

"How are you sore?! Aren't you a liaison at the birth? What are you doing that requires your arms?"

Many people really don't understand what a doula does at a birth, even people who know me! A lot of what a doula offers is intangible: expertise, a calm presence, witnessing you, and making sure that you are heard. Generally, the support that doulas offer falls into three categories: emotional, physical, and educational.


Emotional

Doulas provide emotional support by getting to know you, your family, and your personal wants and needs. I offer coaching and support as you navigate the unknown. I'm a space-holder and a guide. I love asking juicy questions that are designed to make you deeply reflect on the birth process and the transition to parenting. Sometimes, as things get really intense, I make eye contact with a partner and smile to reassure them that what is happening is normal, and that they will meet their baby soon.


doula providing hip squeeze and counterpressure to a tattooed pregnant person at a home birth in chicago
hip squeeze

Physical

If you have heard of a doula, you've likely heard of the hip squeeze: a move that opens room in the pelvis and provides some relief. We offer lots of different physical touch, from counterpressure to light massage. Also, I carry tools like a TENS machine, heat packs, and essential oils. Is my backpack filled with every possible tool to help you feel safe and comfortable? Yes. Are my most used tools my hands and my brains? Also, yes. But it's good to have puke bags handy just in case.


Educational

Birth is infinite and even after years of learning, there's always more to learn. Just when I start to think I have something figured out, a birth comes along and hands me my ass. Then I go home and study some more. I'm a birth nerd, plain and simple. I study all things birth so that you don't have to! Sometimes, the education happens in prenatals and sometimes it happens at your birth. I like to ask if we have time to talk about a possible intervention before it happens because it hits the "pause" button and gives you a moment to breathe and take it all in.


Sometimes clients can't articulate what I've done even after a birth, and they just tell me that they couldn't have done it without me. As long as you feel safe, seen, and satisfied with your birth, I'm happy.

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