I have been pretty busy these last few weeks fighting and getting over some seasonal bacteria(!), coaching my coaching clients through their year reviews and assisting them in planning ahead for 2017, getting my own business goals and business tools in place for 2017, and meeting with new and current clients. Two points came up in all four new client meetings that I thought would be great to share here in a blog post and offer clarification on…
- “I didn’t think a doula would support (xyz) type of birth”
- “I have the impression that a lot of doulas have some kind of agenda”
These concerns always worry me a little – because I wonder how many women shrug off the idea of having a doula because they just don’t think their birthing preferences are in keeping with the type of birth a doula will support?
In my opinion (obviously as a professional doula in Amsterdam; I’m a little biased here!) even one woman disregarding the possibility of doula support because of that uncertainty is a crying shame!
Let’s get clear on each point by turning the statements into questions:
- What type of birth is a doula best for?
- What kind of birth agenda does a doula have?
Q1 – What type of birth is a doula best for?
Answer: Every type of birth!
Whatever type of birth you want – a doula is a good choice for extra support. More often than not; your midwife or gynaecologist will not be able to stay by your side the whole time. A doula can be with you (& your partner), or just outside your door (should you wish to be alone) from the point you need her until a couple of hours after the birth of your baby. A doula can be by your side in the theatre as you have a planned Csection, she can hold your hand over the pool side as you have your baby in the birthing pool at the Geboortecentrum (birthing centre), she can support you and your partner through an induction at the hospital, she can kneel down and hold your left hand as your partner holds your right hand and look up at you in your eye to reassure you as the anaesthetist administers your epidural, or she can be sat behind you on the baarkruk (birthing stool) as your husband catches your baby in your bedroom. A great doula has experience in all types of birth!
Q2 – What kind of birth agenda does a doula have?
Answer: A doula has an agenda to support you and your partner in navigating your pregnancy, birth and post partum period (particularly the first 6 weeks) in the way that you want to be supported by her.
She has no agenda of her own other than how best to support you in preparing for, in having and in recovering from the birth that you want; supporting your birth (& parenting) agenda. Of course a doula can offer helpful pointers about research, direct you to support groups or webinars or articles that may be of interest to you, hold your hand as you say yes or no to any change of plan in any birth setting, and most importantly: do all of the above and be with you in an unconditional, reassuring and non judgemental way.
Let me emphasise this in bold typeface and by colouring it purple: her agenda is supporting your agenda.
All this said; there are doulas who do express preferences for a certain approach to birthing or to parenting, and usually they will be upfront about what type of birthing or parenting that is. If you feel that doesn’t match your chosen direction then rest assured there are many other doulas out there to choose from; doulas are not necessarily one size fits all.
To be clear about my approach as a doula from our very first phone call or meeting:
I will listen to you.
I will ask you questions, I will offer sign posts to helpful information about studies, alternative and possibilities; I will encourage and empower you to make informed choices.
I will be there at your side to support you – whatever your choices – and I hope you will never feel judged by me.
I will offer unconditional support around you and your birthing space, wherever that space may be.
I will support you in the way that you decide you need me to support you, and it may be that the mode of support you need changes along the journey – I can handle unexpected change and I will remain by your side unconditionally.
This is your journey. It is an honour that you ask me to be a part of it.