Birth in the Know



What Does A Doula do?

Birth doulas provide information and support during pregnancy, and labor and birth. Below is a general list of what they do. Each birth, each woman, and each family is individual, so needs will vary.

  1. Birth doulas provide emotional support
  2. They answer questions and help find accurate information for informed choices
  3. They encourage partners to be involved as they choose
  4. Explain and demonstrate various comfort measures for labor
  5. Birth doulas can attend prenatal appointments with clinical care providers
  6. They also ask their clients lots of questions
  7. Birth doulas also help clients formulate a birth vision

Many doulas offer other services, such as placenta encapsulation, childbirth education, and lactation services.

Doulas provide great support and comfort.  Studies show the increase in a vaginal birth, the lower rates of cesarean-section, and increased confidence in mothering when women have the support of a birth doula. For more about the postpartum doula check out this blog post.

What happens when the birth that was envisioned, and all the practicing of comfort measures, and information provided does not create the desired birth outcome?

What happens when a woman who wanted a natural birth has an epidural, and a long drawn out vaginal birth with much intervention or a cesarean-section?

Can blame or responsibility fall on the doula? Should it fall on the doula?

A Doula is not responsible for birth outcomes

I hate to should on anybody. Blame is such an easy way out. Every experience is individual and is interpreted by the individual. As much as doulas provide, it is not their responsibility to guarantee a birth outcome or a positive interpretation of the birth experience. A woman who gives birth is responsible. Not responsible as in to blame. She is responsible for the choices made. Nobody is ever responsible for another person’s actions or choices or responses.

The doula is a guide, and her client always gets to choose. Many say that doulas are advocates. Yes and no. Doulas are advocates for their client’s wishes. They do not speak for their clients. So much of the work is preparing for the birth, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. This is the pregnant woman’s job, with support and encouragement from her doula.

Doulas are amazing, and can certainly impact choices made, and thereby impact outcomes, but they are not responsible for choices made or for the experience and outcome of the birth.

Let’s all start asking more questions about ourselves and the clients we serve. Let’s all take responsibility for our choices and experiences.

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