After I am hired, I like to check in periodically to see how my clients are doing via email or text. Then I will schedule meetings around 33 weeks and 36 weeks. These meetings are for me to get to know you, to discuss your birth preferences, and to address any fears or concerns you have regarding the birth.
At 37 weeks I will be in contact at least weekly and will begin what is called a 24 hour call period. That means from 37 weeks until 42 weeks or the delivery I will not leave town or schedule any mandatory events without your prior knowledge. I will answer phone calls from you any time of the day or night, and I will be waiting for the call that will bring me to your home to assist in your labor.
After the baby is born, I will assist with breastfeeding if you like. I will stay between 1 and 3 hours, until everyone is settled and you are ready for some family time. I will then come to your home once you are released and make sure the transition to home went smoothly. That is also a time to ask me any questions you might have about the birth, baby care, or breastfeeding.
From beginning to end, my goal is for you to have the best experience possible. I love witnessing the beginnings of new lives and the creation of new families and I know that I all doulas share that passion.
So what is a doula anyway?
When I say I am a doula, I get many responses. The mosts common one is a blank stare. A close second is, "that's like a midwife, isn't it?". While doulas are becoming more and more popular, the word "doula" is certainly not a household name yet.
A doula is a non medical birth assistant who helps mother's to be and their partners before, during, and after labor. A doula is part advocate and part physical support, a birth coach and a guide through what is often a confusing and emotional process. If you still are at a loss for what that means, you are not alone. I often have clients tell me after a birth that they didn't really understand what it was I was going to do to help them until I arrived during their labor. I think the easiest way to understand is to walk you through what I do from the time I am hired. This varies some from doula to doula, but not a great deal.
Once labor begins, it is a joint decision when I should come and whether I meet you at your home or hospital. In either case, I will help you find positions that are more comfortable for you and help the labor progress. I will us massage, counter pressure, words of encouragement, hot and cold cloths, a birth ball, and a rebozo to help distract you from discomfort and help you feel supported. It is also part of my job to make sure that the birth partner eats, gets regular breaks, and is able to sleep some if the labor is long or goes over night. Me and the birth partner combine efforts to make laboring women as comfortable as possible.
If you are at home when I arrive, I will help you decide when to go to the hospital. The main considerations are where we think you might be in your labor, and what your preferences are in terms of pain management. At the hospital, I can help make sure that your birth preferences are respected as much as possible and that you are given all the information you need to make any decisions that may arise. My physical and emotional support will intensify as your labor does.