Changing The Way We
At some point in time, women stopped feeling empowered about giving birth. Childbirth became a medical procedure versus one of the most physically connected experiences a woman can have. The conversation started becoming less miraculous and more about the end result. We began to forget to trust our feminine instinct—our intuition—and started to only allow for science to be the guide.
I am not a mom; however, I have been blessed to hear the fascinating birth stories of some of my closest friends. Each of these friends has one thing in common when talking about their experience of childbirth: their desire to feel in control and connected to their own body during pregnancy and childbirth.
One of these friends, in particular, worked with a doula and describes the experience she had as a completely transformative way for her to prepare for birth.
Her doula took her from feeling lost and unheard by her doctor to feeling liberated and in control of her journey.
Unfortunately, some doctors do not have the bandwidth to have deep one-on-one relationships with their pregnant patients. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for a woman to feel alone in the stream of internet scrolling to find answers about the way her body is changing.
My friend explains, “my doctor and I didn't see eye-to-eye on everything, and my doula gave me evidence-based information to support me in making my decisions on my own terms and by helping me listen to my body. It was very empowering to be presented with ALL the information for my different options.”
So what exactly is a doula?
A doula is defined as a labor companion who supports a woman and her partner non-medically throughout pregnancy. They offer emotional and physical support during pregnancy and into labor, along with helping to soothe the postpartum period. A doula’s goal is to provide women with the mental and emotional tools they’ll need throughout pregnancy by offering hands-on exercises, emotional support, and one-on-one attention to prepare for the day she brings life into this world.
The word doula comes from the Greek word meaning “a woman's servant.” Doulas have been around for centuries, but re-emerged in the 1960s during the natural birth movement as a way for women to receive firsthand education about natural childbirth.
Doulas vs. Midwives
Doulas are different from midwives in that they do not have advanced medical training—rather, they have a rigorous certifications for pregnancy support. Doulas are focused on emotional support, whereas midwives typically have master’s degrees in nursing and offer more specialized one-on-one medical attention and delivery. Doulas can cost about $800 to $3,000 depending on the packages and services you are using them for, and midwives are about the same cost. However, depending on your insurance, doulas and midwives may be covered.
A Doula’s Process
A doula’s job with their clients is very involved. Doulas come to their client’s home for prenatal visits throughout the nine months, discuss doctor's appointments and any concerns the parents may have. When the time comes, they are also there for labor support. Having a doula during this precious time alleviates emotional stress for the partner as well.
“My doula timed my contractions, gave me massages, and told me how to position my body when contractions were coming. She slept over and watched me all night, and made food and smoothies,” my friend recalls about her experience with her doula. “We even went for a long walk/hike to try and get my contractions to come on naturally (totally worked), which was part of my birth plan that she supported and empowered me through. My daughter was able to be born naturally in the hospital and I am 100% positive I would not have had this experience without the wisdom, patience, positivity, and calmness my doula held for me. I also credit my doctor for taking care of me from the medical side and I am thankful for him, too.”
As women, we should feel informed and connected with our bodies during pregnancy and childbirth. Our bodies are meant to do this, after all. Having a doula helps create feelings of companionship and guidance that in-turn helps personalize our childbirth experience. Whether you are a new mom, thinking about having children someday, or are currently pregnant and want additional support, seek out a local doula who can offer a helping hand as the journey of childbirth unfolds.
Courtney Jay Higgins is the Associate Editor at The Good Trade. She is also a Yoga Instructor, vegetarian, wellness and fashion enthusiast. Originally from Colorado, her soul found California when she came to get her degree in Visual Communications at the Fashion Institute Of Design & Merchandising. She has a background in telling a story through writing, creative direction and content creation. Check out her blog and Instagram for her unique perspective on the mergence of fashion and spirituality.