Hey, so what is a doula anyway?
a revolutionary. an activist. an advocate. a learning resource. a support person. a motivator.
Okay...maybe this isn't what your dictionary defines a doula as; but the truth is, we are these things and so much more. A doula is typically a trained support person who provides physical, emotional, and educational support to a birthing person throughout labor and delivery. But honestly, that's just one of the many roles doulas can play! Let's take a dive into the different types of doulas:
Fertility doula: 1 in 6 couples experience fertility issues. The job of a fertility doula is to be a guide throughout the process of trying to conceive. They help turn feelings of uncertainty and being overwhelmed into ones of understanding and peaceful connection between you and your partner. Fertility doulas offer holistic emotional and informational support throughout the journey, providing evidence-based information no matter where you are in your efforts of trying to conceive.
Labor/birth doula: this type of doula provides continuous support during labor and birth. Support from this type of doula may come in the form of physical, emotional, or informational assistance throughout the process. Physical support can range from implementing hands-on techniques for comfort and pain relief such as massage, counter-pressure, hot and/or cold compresses, and walking the partner through how to be of assistance throughout as well. Emotional support often consists of reassuring the birthing person and their partner that they are doing an amazing job and working to help them maintain a positive attitude. Affirmations, small talk, keeping them company when the providers aren't around, and checking in to see how they're feeling are all very important parts of this aspect of being a doula. Informational support helps clients feel empowered and helps them to advocate for themselves, gives them a voice when they feel voiceless. Answering questions, providing evidence-based research on various topics, encouraging clients to make informed decisions, and explaining common - or not so common - birth-related procedures. It helps, it gives clients the comfort of having someone in their corner. Providing unbiased care and support, giving them what they need most - whether they what that is, or not.
Postpartum doula: postpartum doulas are particularly trained and skilled in "mothering the mother" (or providing exceptional care for new parents and newly born babies). Postpartum doulas provide information and assistance with newborn care, infant feeding, infant soothing, infant sleep training, and recovery tips for the postpartum mind and body. They may be trained to identify PMADS (Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders), and provide resources to help. These doulas may also provide care for the older sibling(s), light household clean-up, and meal preparation. In short, postpartum doulas are a great asset for helping the entire family transition into the new life of an additional member to the family.
Loss & bereavement doula: this type of doula provides services for miscarriages, stillbirths, planned abortions, and unplanned abortions. While the topic is assuredly heavy, the fact is that pregnancy loss is common and may affect as many as 1 in 3 people. Loss at any stage is difficult, and it helps to have someone to help you through the grief. These doulas are trained to support families through their loss
Death doula: this type of doula provides spiritual, physical, and emotional support while helping clients and their families through an intense and deeply personal time. Death doulas may provide services in planning and creating a legacy project or memorial, and a client's "last" days. They provide support for families in the early stages of grief.
Full-spectrum doula: support from a full-spectrum doula encompasses the support of all others! A full-spectrum doulas is trained to provide support on all levels - from fertility to death. Full-spectrum doulas approach their care from a holistic and lifespan perspective, and are - like all other doulas - an excellent addition to your support team!
The moral of the story is this: get a doula. You need one, you deserve one...and we're pretty freakin' awesome to have around. We're fun. We're smart. We're supportive. We're like...an extra layer of love when you need it most!