Doulas & Homebirths

When people think of a doula, typically, they think of an advocate, someone to help them navigate early labor, and then, later, the hospital scene. Someone to help them make a birth plan, someone to educate them on the risks of different interventions and medications.... someone to help them with a hospital birth.

While all of those things are true, doulas are equally as wonderful a support at birth center and home births. A doula at a home birth works with your midwife to be a fluid source of support and encouragement throughout labor and birth.

A first time mom can benefit from a doula because a doula offers suggestions, provides information and alternatives to interventions (even natural ones), and give mom the reassurance that a first time mom so often needs so that she can surrender to her own birth process.

A first time partners can benefit from a doula for the same reasons above. A doula can also help partners by being the 'timer' of contractions (most doulas don't time, but they have more reliable means of knowing how far along a mom is), helping to map how far along the mom is, and when an appropriate time might be to call the midwife, whether it be for a deviation from what should normally be expected, or to let the midwife know that things are picking up and moving toward the birthing time.

Women who have longer labors will benefit from a doula as they will often arrive hours earlier than the midwife to help with comfort measures, position changes, suggestions for speeding up labor, reminding mom to keep hydrated, and to make sure both mom and other support people remain well nourished and rested. In addition, she can be a watchful eye for the midwife, so that the midwife can come rested for the more active labor stage.

A woman who has older children can benefit from a doula as the doula can provide information and reassurance to the children, help them bake a cake near birthing time, take them for a short walk so mom and partner can reconnect, or give them activities to do to keep them occupied throughout labor.

A woman who wants woman support can benefit from a doula, especially if she is in short-order of other supportive women. A woman who is away from her home town, new to an area, or has family that is hostile to her home birth choice can all benefit from having an additional female presence to 'stand in' for those missing family and friend figures and provide emotional support.

Midwives often appreciate the doula who understands and works within her limitations. A good doula will understand that both her skills and the midwives, together, work toward the goal of the mother-centered birth. A good home birth doula understands that she is not to act as a pseudo-midwife, but to support the mother in her own, very blessed and priceless, way.

Doulas can steep labor tea, hold a flashlight, fill a birthing pool, Refill a birthing pool, get older children up from naps to view the birth, and take photographs for the family. Doulas at home births can prepare the placenta for placentophagy (some), prepare postpartum teas, help with nursing, or prepare a LeBoyer bath. Doulas can fetch birth gear, clean up messes, and provide counter pressure, all within the same breath.

When providing the support aforementioned, the midwife is given even more space to be able to be the care provider for the mother, while the doula supports the family unit. This pairing can provide for a beautiful protecting of the space by two women whose sole focus is the mother.

The doula who serves both at hospital births and home births changes her hat, but never her heart, shifts her skills, but never her service. She is a constant support, encouragement, and every bit as useful, just in so many different ways, at a home birth.

Further Reading:
Why I Advocate The Dad and Doula Relationship

1 comment:

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

This is beautiful. I'm just starting out, and so far my only births have been in hospital settings. I'd been wondering if I'd be needed or helpful in a home setting, and you just answered that so well. Thank you!


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