You’ve practiced the hip squeeze and your breathing techniques in your childbirth education classes. You’ve even been to the Comfort Measures parent topic session. You (and your labor support) feel ready for your birthing time. And, you really should be proud of yourselves for preparing so well. But journeying through the birth process is a big deal, and there are lots of emotions going on. It can be a lot of pressure (especially on a partner) to have to recall which comfort technique is going to help at the right time, and if that is going to help move things along in your labor. What if the birthing mom doesn’t really like the way that the partner massages her or presses on her back? Then what?
If you have hired a doula, you have covered your bases. Your doula knows the various comfort measures backwards and forwards. She is, for the most part, freed up emotionally to just be there without having to go through the process of becoming a mother or a father. She is like a chameleon, quietly changing into the type of support person you need her to be when you need it. Perhaps things are going smoothly– your doula can be available to get you or your partner food, or just step in if your partner needs a nap. She can offer gentle reminders in early labor which comfort techniques you might enjoy, and suggest alternative options in active labor. She can be as much or as little as you need her to be.
She can subtly help your partner get the feel of things so that he or she can support you just right way, and the only thing you remember afterwards is that your partner was “just the best“ at supporting you in your labor. She can help your partner stay hands on, or not, if he or she prefers. Doulas are wonderful at filling in the gaps so that you get what you need, while allowing the partner to participate to their comfort–in a very loving and supportive way.
Your doula may also have specialized training in hypnosis techniques, acupressure, healing touch or spinning babies techniques. This is a great question to ask when you are interviewing doulas, as many doulas have done specialized training in other areas.
The doula can support you in your labor differently than anyone else on your team, because you have met with her before the birth. You know her, and she knows you. When your birthing time comes, she already knows the types of touch you like or don’t like. She knows your greatest fears, your strengths and your weaknesses. She uses that kind of relationship to be a very unique support person for you and your partner.
She knows the kind of environment you would like in your birthing space, and will create that for you seamlessly, so you can have peace of mind knowing things are like you want them to be, without having to say anything. She knows the hospital room well, and has never ending ideas to try to keep things moving along. She even knows creative ways to put that bed sheet to work! She can magically make the birthing ball, warm or cold compresses and warm blankets appear without having a big discussion about it.
Your doula is an abounding resource of different things to try– who wouldn’t like that kind of additional support for their birth? She will work with you and your partner until you find that technique that is just right for you. She will be there with you through the toughest moments you come up against, until you are over that hurdle. And she will be there waiting, cheering you on, as you (and your partner) cross that finish line.