Six Ways a Doula Lends Support

When a close friend of mine decided to go for natural childbirth, I gave her all the encouragement in the world. I recommended a doula I had met to help her stick to her natural childbirth plan.

I assured her I’d still be available in case she needed moral support, but a doula is a trained professional that provides non-medical support during labor. The word “doula” comes from the Greek word meaning “a woman who serves,” the doula told us.

My friend’s husband had an aversion to hospitals, the sight of blood and anything medical related. Here are a few of the ways the doula provided support to my friend in labor as well as her husband, friends and relatives.

Packing the overnight bag

My friend said her husband was in a state of shock when she went into labor and could not remember what they should pack. The doula was level headed and arrived at the house with a “childbirth survival kit” that included baby clothes, diapers, wipes, a nightgown and blankets. She also grabbed items my friend requested from the house.

Timing the contractions

My friend had heard she should go to the hospital when contractions are 10 minutes apart, but her doula recommended for the first child that she wait until they were 5 minutes apart for a full hour. Second and third babies often come more quickly, which is why it’s important to get to the hospital when contractions are 7 to 10 minutes apart.

Providing food and drinks

My friend was refusing all food and drink when she started having contractions. The doula said sports drinks that contain sodium work for women in labor since they are expending as much energy as athletes. She also offered her coconut water. My friend said the drinks gave her energy without making her feel nauseated. For food, she ate plain pasta and bananas.

Calming down dad

The doula did a great job helping the father to relax. I noticed the dad-to-be was anxious, pacing the room. He had a panicked look on his face. The doula knew what to say to calm him down. She also thought ahead and made sure there was plenty of “man food” on hand. When dad fell asleep after 18 hours of labor, the doula stayed alert and kept coaching my friend.

Dealing with the doctors

Because my friend’s husband was so flustered, he could not handle any complications at the hospital. The doula helped find the insurance information needed and explained the birth plan to a doctor who was on call.

Helping her get through the pain

My friend was able to have a successful natural childbirth with no medication. She says the doula reminded her to breath, gave her relaxing massages and moved her into the best laboring positions. After the baby was born, she assisted with the breastfeeding when the baby was having trouble “latching on.”

Overall, I was extremely impressed by the care provided by the doula. Even if my friend’s husband had wanted to be a labor coach, the doula’s presence and participation still would have been welcomed.

After seeing a doula in action, I wished I had known about them when I had my babies.

More from this contributor:

Saving Money For a Baby

Homebirth Versus Hospital Birth

Rh Factor During Pregnancy: My Complicated Birth

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