Often when I tell people what I do they say, “Oh! Is that like a midwife?” or “A… what-a?” It’s hard to give a succinct elevator pitch about what birth doulas do… and what they DON’T do. So here’s a shortlist of common misconceptions I hear about doulas:
MYTH: Doulas are the same as homebirth midwives.
FACT: While there are some similarities between the style of attentive, compassionate care of doulas and homebirth midwives, they are in fact quite different professions. Doulas do not provide any medical or clinical care to pregnant or birthing people. They work alongside medical professionals (such as midwives, OBs, or family doctors) to provide emotional, physical, and educational support to families. Many families choose to work with both doulas and midwives to create the support team they want for an optimal birth experience.
MYTH: Doulas are only for people who want a natural birth.
FACT: Doulas are for anyone who wants support during their un-medicated, medicated, or cesarean birth! A doula’s only agenda should be to support you in the birth experience you want. A doula can provide hands-on and verbal comfort measures during any birth experience, and will validate your choices and empower you to ask for what you need.
MYTH: A doula will be disappointed in me if I can’t/don’t want to breastfeed.
FACT: Doulas provide professional, unbiased support, and believe that every woman is capable of making the best choices for her family. Breastfeeding is an incredible, miraculous way to feed a baby. And you know what? So is formula. “Amazing science milk,” as one friend calls it. Feminism is about choices. Feminism is about trusting women to make good choices for themselves and their babies. I trust you!
MYTH: A doula will advocate for me.
FACT: Your doula will help you advocate for yourself! While your doula will communicate with hospital staff to ask for a warm blanket or a new yoga ball, when it comes to the Big Stuff, like discussing interventions, it is important for the birthing person and their partner to be the ones doing the talking. What does this look like? Your doula might say, “Would you like a few minutes to think about this?” “Would you like some privacy to discuss this together?” “Do you have any questions about the procedure?” “I remember when you were making your birth plan, you wanted to avoid _____, how are you feeling about that now?” People who feel involved in their births have more positive experiences, regardless of outcomes.
MYTH: A doula will take the place of my partner.
FACT: A doula will help your partner find their place in the birth room, give them ideas of ways to support you, and allow them to take breaks to use the restroom, eat, and even sleep! A doula will also be able to answer questions throughout the labor, and provide reassurance. Labor and birth can be really intense and emotional. It can be hard for a partner to watch the person they love work so hard for so long. A doula can be there to provide professional support to BOTH parents during this amazing journey.
Still wondering what the heck a doula is, and whether having one would be a good fit for you? Let me know and we’ll chat!