Doula Myths Busted!

I'm probably not what most people picture when they hear the term doula. No paisley, no Birkenstocks, no sage smudge. In fact, you could confuse me for any professional, because that's what I am, a professional. Don't get me wrong; many doulas do wear paisley and Birks, and smudge their spaces. Those attributes have nothing to do with how professional a person is. I guess what I am trying to say is that the doula profession is like any other, we are diverse individuals with a job to do. Some wear slacks and blazers; others wear flowing skirts, still other wear denim and leather. Stereotypes about the way doulas dress are just the beginning.

Doula work as a profession is a relatively new career path. Anything new has its misconceptions. Let's get right to it and clear up a few of the most common myths about doulas!

“Oh! Like a midwife!”

Yes, and no.

When I tell people that I am a doula, this is the most common response I get. Like midwives, doulas work with pregnant people and new parents. Doulas and midwives both tend to approach birth as a normal physiological process, and have a passion for supporting pregnant people. That’s where the similarities start to fade. Midwives catch babies; doulas do not. You see, a midwife’s job is to focus on the physical health of the parent and baby. Midwives manage all of the medical and clinical aspects of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Doulas fill the gap with emotional support and assistance with comfort measures during childbirth.

Doulas are only for homebirths.

Doulas are for every birth! Doulas work with clients planning homebirths and water births, un-medicated births in hospitals, birth centre births, birth with the use of medical pain relief, including epidural and even planned caesarian birth. Doulas are for people giving birth and people who have recently given birth.

A doula will replace (or displace) my partner.

You or your partner might be concerned about how a doula could interfere with how your partner experiences your baby's birth. A doula can never replace a loving partner, who knows you intimately, loves you, and is going through the birth on a personal level. In fact, a doula can help facilitate bonding between you and your partner during labour. Reassuring your partner, guiding them, and teaching them techniques to comfort you are a big part of what your doula can do. Further, I find partners are relieved to have someone else that can stay should they need to eat, step out for a phone call, or use the bathroom.

Doulas don’t do epidurals.

Totally false. Doulas love epidurals. Many of us have used epidurals as pain relief for our own births. For clients that are planning to have an epidural or decide to have an epidural placed during labour, doulas continue to provide the same level of committed support.

Most of the myths and misconceptions surrounding doulas focus on a preference for "natural", un-medicated birth or being a replacement for a midwife. However, at the core of this work is a belief in supporting choices. I am a doula not because I want people to choose or experience a specific way of birthing but because I want people to have the experience they wish. I am a doula because I believe people need support and reassurance, and to feel safe and educated. It doesn't matter to me if the birth they dream of takes place in a birth pool in their living room or an operating room at the local hospital.

 

Do Doulas DO Epidurals?

Epidurals are the most effective way to relieve the discomforts of childbirth.

After numbing the area with local anesthetic, an anesthesiologist inserts a needle into your spinal cord in the mid to lower back. A small tube is then threaded through the needle and into what is called the epidural space. Once the epidural is in place, medication is given through the tube to relieve pain.

There’s this myth floating around that you won't need a doula if you're planning to have an epidural, but that just isn't true. There are so many tasks a doula can attend to, regardless of the pain relief options you desire. 

How can a doula support me if I am planning to have an epidural?

 

A doula is a perfect person to delegate tasks to!

 

epidural

For people that are worried about how they might react to labour, a doula is an experienced assistant. Throughout labour, you can count on your doula to help you stay in control. As your non-judgemental support person, utilize your doula to manage tasks, as needed.

A doula will ensure you are never alone (unless you want to be).

 

Labour can feel lonely. Once you have your epidural, you may feel refreshed and chatty. Having your doula in the room means there is always someone knowledgeable to ask your questions or talk things through with. How about a foot massage while we discuss what a fabulous mother you are going to be?

 

A doula creates security for your partner and encourages a closer connection between you.

 

Partners experience birth, too. When you are comfortable, your partner may be ready for a break. With doula support, they can grab a meal, check in with family, or get a little self-care time without leaving you on your own. Hiring a doula provides security and flexibility for both of you.

Sometimes partners find the process of birth troubling or concerning. It can be distressing to watch someone you love in such an intense state. A doula will be there every step of the way with reassurance and guidance. We love teaching partners how they can better help the birthing person to relax and remain focused.

 

A doula has the answers or knows where to find them.

 

For couples that wish they could just bring their Childbirth Educator into the delivery room, a doula is the answer! You'll get continuous informational support based on reliable studies and credible sources. Your doula can paint a picture of the process in advance, and as your labour progresses. An expert on pregnancy and childbirth, a doula knows exactly where to find the facts you need.

 

Are you planning to utilize epidural pain relief for your baby’s birth? There are so many ways a doula can help you have a more positive birth experience, regardless of your preferences for pain relief. Contact Ottawa Family Doula today to learn more!