I took a doula course with the Association of Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors (APND) in February 2014 and it was an absolutely incredible experience for me! I found it fascinating to learn more about the birthing process and to see all the ways that naturopathic medicine can be applied to help women feel more comfortable, happy, and empowered throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
But before I get more into what a doula can do, maybe I should answer the most important question – what is a doula??? Put simply, a doula is a labour companion who can guide and support a woman and her partner through the entire birthing process. As soon as the woman feels she is going into labour, she can call her doula and her doula will come and support her through the entire process until after the baby is born. Doulas can help in any birthing environment you choose, whether you want a home birth or a hospital birth. We are trained to understand the stages of labour and the possible interventions that may be required. However, we cannot perform any of the medical treatments, such as birthing of the baby, fetal heart rate monitoring, or administering medications. Childbirth can be intense and unpredictable and this may cause the mother and her partner to feel overwhelmed and anxious. The doula will be able to stay calm throughout the entire process and will do her best to help the mother and her partner feel satisfied with their birthing experience. As a doula, we are trained to provide as much emotional support, physical comfort, and advice as is needed.
The book that I read to prepare for my doula course was The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labour Companions By Penny Simkin. I would highly recommend this to anybody who is planning to be a labour companion, or to anybody who is interested in learning more about childbirth! In this book, she talks about doulas and the ways in which doulas can help during childbirth. Some of these include:
– Guiding you and your partner in applying the techniques you learned in your childbirth class to the real life labour situation
– Helping you and your partner understand what you are feeling and how to interpret the different sensations you have as labour progresses through the various stages
– Understanding your priorities, fears, and concerns about childbirth and helping you deal with the fears and concerns while achieving the priorities you had going into labour
– Assisting you and your partner by bringing you beverages, hot packs, or ice, and allowing your partner to take a break if needed
– Finally, your doula can offer you lots of different techniques for comfort and pain relief, including breathing techniques, position options, and relaxing massages (ND doulas can offer further comfort measures, including acupuncture and botanical support)
I also came across this website and she does a really good job of explaining the benefits of a doula!
As for home or hospital birth, there are benefits and disadvantages to both and it is really up to each individual family to decide which location fits their needs and wants best. No matter where you decide to have your birth, you can always use a doula!
A doula is a fantastic addition to a hospital birth because your doula will be by your side the entire time. In a hospital, there are lots of nurses and doctors coming and going throughout your entire labour and it is nice to have the consistency of a doula who is there for you to keep you comfortable, motivated, and to make sure your needs are being met. Sometimes there are difficult decisions that you need to make during labour, such as whether you need to be induced or whether you need an epidural. Your doula will not make any decisions for you but can help you discuss your options and give you the pros and cons of different choices.
A doula is also an extremely beneficial contributor to any home birth! If you’re having a home birth, you will have a midwife who is looking after you and your baby and making sure your labour is progressing safely. And the doula can be more focused on your specific needs, grabbing you a snack, some water, a hot or cold pack, or whatever else you or your midwife might need. A doula will be the much-needed extra set of hands at your home birth!
Now maybe you’re wondering about the training process that a doula goes through. The most well known organization that offers birth doula certification is DONA International. They offer training courses, information for mothers and families, and lots of other important information for doulas, families, and the public. However, I did not take my training through DONA because, as a naturopathic student, I was able to train to become an ND doula! I took my course through the APND and they gave us the proper doula training, as well as information on how naturopathic treatments can be used successfully in labour and delivery. ND doulas are extremely valuable because we can use our extensive knowledge of naturopathic medicine to offer even more advice, comfort measures, and treatment possibilities to the mother, her partner, and the baby. ND doulas often offer 2 pre-birth and 2 post-partum visits, on top of attending the birth. This allows the ND doula and the mother to become well acquainted and for the mother (and her partner) to get more advice about staying healthy throughout pregnancy, labour, and the post-partum period.
Now that I have taken the doula course, I will be looking for birthing experiences! Since I am not a certified ND yet, I can’t use the naturopathic treatment options, such as acupuncture and prescribing botanicals, and I cannot give any naturopathic health advice BUT I would still be a great doula!!!! I can offer tons of emotional and physical support and have learned many amazing comfort and relaxation measures! I can also be your calm and helpful side-kick throughout your entire birthing process and I can do my best to make sure you are satisfied with it by the end! I completely understand that childbirth is both a scary and exciting time and it is completely up to the mother and her partner to decide what role they want their doula to play. I will respect you and your wishes and will be happy to do anything to make your experience perfect for you.
And the best part about being a new, inexperienced, student doula?? I will be offering my services free of charge until I graduate! So if you or anybody you know is curious about what a doula is and how a doula can help make sure your childbirth experience is a positive one, feel free to contact me! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you and having the privilege to take part in your special childbirth!!
Thanks for reading my blog and considering me as your doula! 🙂