Five Doula Tips You Need To Know

As a doula I often get asked, ”What is the most important thing to do to prepare for the birth of our baby?” I often find clients are surprised by the answers I, and other doulas, give. Here are the top 5 doula tips to help get you prepared for your birth:

1.  Talk to your doctor or midwives A LOT.

Being on the same page with your care provider is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family. Ask a lot of questions, bring in notes, talk to friends and visit reputable websites to get ideas of what are good questions to ask. Here is a good resource to consider:

http://www.motherfriendly.org/downloads (we recommend you download the ‘Having a Baby? Ten Questions To Ask’ PDF)

If your doctor or midwife does not make the time to sit and talk to you about your wishes and answer your questions, they may not be the right provider for you.  Consider this: if they will not make time to discuss things with you before the labor, how will they be when it is time to discuss things or make decisions when you are in labor?

2.  Knowing your positions is more important than knowing your breathing techniques.

How you position your body and how you move are the best tools you can have to help baby move through the pelvis, and down and out the birth canal.  Gravity can be a great helper in labor if you know how to use it, which brings me to the third tip.

3.  Take a childbirth class!

I and the doulas I work with will not accept you as a client if you have not taken a childbirth class (did you know Belly Bliss offers childbirth education, workshops and classes?). This is how important we think it is! In childbirth class, you will learn more than just how to breathe; you will learn your positions, how to help baby move, what to expect from labor, the different interventions available and what your options are – and even much more than that.

Look for a class with a certified teacher who has experience and knowledge in the areas that are most important to you.  For example, if knowing positioning and comfort techniques is important to you, look for a class taught by a doula who is also a childbirth educator (once again, our classes at Belly Bliss are taught by just such people). Many people don't know you can also contact the teacher to ask them questions about their class and teaching style.

4)  Wear something you feel beautiful in while in labor!

Now – don't get me wrong – there are a lot of other great things to consider (see tip number five below), but this is something I think is very important. Take a moment to think of it this way:

When you are in labor, it is the most pregnant you will be; the fullest your body will be with baby, the strongest your body will be and the last moments your body and this baby’s body will be one. What better time to celebrate this body than when you are in labor? Your body is doing a beautiful thing. Women in labor are always unimaginably beautiful. As Ina May Gaskin says, “If a woman doesn't look like a Goddess during birth, then someone isn't treating her right.” When we feel beautiful, we move differently; we feel empowered. This is a time to move and feel empowered.

An additional benefit of hiring a doula are the pictures.  Many people think they don’t want pictures of the actual birth, but I encourage my clients to let me take a lot of pictures and they are always glad we did. Now, they don't have to be pictures of baby coming out; we can of course maintain some modesty. But what about the first moment baby is handed to Mom? The look on Dad’s face when he sees his baby? The moment Mom and Dad look at each other the first time after seeing their baby?  These pictures should not to be missed out on!  Now, picture these moments with Mom in a beautiful nighty or lacy bra (no underwire, and soft lace of course) vs. her in a hospital gown.  Nude is always beautiful, too, but some women prefer clothing. Either way, I think think my point is made.

5)  Get doula support!

Doulas will help you in more ways than you can imagine. They will help you open up communication with your care provider; they will help you with your positioning and comfort techniques before and during labor; they will help you find the right classes and resources for your questions; they take pictures; have an arsenal of comfort techniques and knowledge; and they can even help you shop.

As doulas, the support we provide prior to the labor is just as important as the support we provide during and after the labor. Our job is also to support Dad's, not to take their place. We want Dad just as involved as both Mom and Dad do. Our goal is to take the pressure off of him so that he can relax more and let us help guide him into what to do and when to do it so that he is involved and the main support person. Don't take my word for it; here are some quotes from dads who have hired doulas:

http://bellybliss.org/PopUps/Testimonials.html

Do You Want More Doula Tips?

Belly Bliss offers monthly "Meet Our Doulas" events, along with many workshops taught by doulas. Come and meet us and ask questions. We are always happy to answer questions and direct you to great resources.

Lauren Williams is a Mother, Personal Trainer, Doula, Childbirth Educator, and Co-Owner of Belly Bliss in Denver