You’re choosing doula support because you want a better birth experience. You want to be in control of what happens to you and your baby. You don’t want to feel alone. You want to ensure your partner knows what is going on and feels safe and supported. You want to be knowledgeable and you know that having a doula is like bringing your childbirth educator with you into the delivery room!
Statistically, within populations, having professional labour support results in people reflecting more positively on their birth experience. I certainly felt that way about having a doula myself. My previous birth experiences were not traumatic, but even though so many things did not go the way I had hoped, I felt much more in control and connected to my partner when I delivered my youngest with doula support.
A number of factors may result in you feeling negatively or traumatised by your baby’s birth. These things are not always dramatic, violent factors, but may be subtle things you feel, hear, or have done to you that create a sense of negativity surrounding your labour and delivery.
Loss of Control: Studies have shown that when a person feels like their birth experience was something that happened to them and not something they actively participated it, the experience becomes negative. Professional labor support can help you remain in control of your experience by bringing you and your partner’s attention to changes in your birth plan, providing you with the resources and information you desire to make informed decisions and encouraging you to do what you feel is best.
Loss of Dignity: Small things can make all the difference in maintaining a person’s sense of dignity. If you are modest about your body, a sheet to cover with, or someone to keep the curtain closed can help you feel more composed. If you are sensitive about bodily functions, a doula may act as a “gatekeeper” outside the bathroom door allowing you the privacy you need. Understanding that asking for help with every day tasks can feel demoralizing, your doula attunes to your needs and assists you without direction.
Hostility in the Birth Room: You are more likely to perceive their birth experience as negative if you feel that any one present during your experience is hostile towards you or others in the birth room. A doula can help to facilitate communication between you and your partner, care providers, and even other family members to prevent hostility. By encouraging you to express your questions, feelings or decisions in a positive manner, the doula facilitates positive communication between everyone present. On your instruction (or with a previously decided code word) a doula can even send a pushy grandparent off on a task that makes him/her feel important and needed. A professional labor support person should always maintain and project a sense of calm and pleasantness. That alone can influence the mood of everyone in the room.
Lack of Caring: People need to feel cared about, especially during childbirth. Sometimes labour can feel very lonely, even in a room full of people who truly do care. Professional labour support is available to provide physical and emotional comfort throughout your labour. The doula may provide therapeutic touch or assist your partner so that they can provide comfort to you. Facilitating a connection between you and your partner creates a memorable and solidifying experience for you as you become a family.
The Little Things: As noted above, it’s the small stuff that makes all the difference. The refilling of ice water and reminders to drink. Encouragement to use the bathroom. Fresh, cool, cloths for your forehead. Whispering reminders in your ear that you strong, and you can do this. A safe space to open up and talk about your fears and frustrations without being judged or bombarded with personal opinion. Support.