You already know what a doula does, kind of. You know that people who receive continuous support from a doula during labor are more likely to have shorter labors and positive feelings about childbirth, and are less likely to need pain medications or cesareans. Great!
But once you hire your doula, how does the relationship work, and what should you expect from your doula?
Connection and Trust
Hopefully you followed my advice from my last blog entry about choosing a doula, and you know what I'm talking about. When you had that consultation with your doula, did you feel a click? Because you should have. Although this is a business relationship, it goes way beyond that; it's personal, very personal. And do you really want to share such intimate moments with someone you don't feel a connection with? Or someone you don't trust? Probably not. And how does your partner feel? Your doula is not just there for you (read more about how your doula works with your partner here), so have that talk!
Don't expect a cheer routine and a back flip, but by talking to your doula you should know if they love what they do. I, like most doulas, have a incredibly strong passion for birth and birthing parents - I always have. But the truth of the matter is, we doulas give our all to so many people at one time, and burnout is very real. Do you know how long the majority of doulas last in their field before they decide they need a change? TWO YEARS. That's right, two years. I'm not saying that you should base your choice on how long they've been a doula, but you should feel that passion when you talk to them. After all, you'll be spending a lot of time together!
As a doula, one of the most important things that I expect from my clients is communication. I mean, I don't need for you to text me daily...we both have lives! But usually I ask that you send a quick update after your appointments, and I'm always there for questions and concerns. Besides that, every client is different in their communication needs, so I usually let them take the lead with what they're comfortable with.
But you should expect to hear from your doula as well. A turnaround time on non-emergent emails or texts should normally be 24hrs or less. Of course, a doula's schedule can get quite hectic and sometimes it's more than that, but it shouldn't be the norm. You and your doula should talk about what both of your expectations are right from the start.
In any event, your doula is there to provide you with support, information and resources. That's what we're here for! So, ask away!
Intuitiveness and Listening skills
This part goes right back to connecting with your doula, and here's why these things are important: I find that after repeated communication with my clients, I get to know them and their personalities. But (because I like to use zoom a lot), I also get to know their facial expressions, I hear the long pauses after I ask a question, I notice that they keep going back to a particular subject, etc. In other words, I learn to read my clients.
I find that many clients are hesitant to bring up certain feelings or fears, and it's my job to bring those out and address them because fear has no place in the birthing room.
And as a parent myself, of course the thing that I want to do right away is fix every problem (and sometimes I can do that), but many times, my clients just need me to listen. Not to brush it off or talk over them, but to just be quiet and let them get those feelings out.
And what happens with all of the things I've learned about a client? I bring it right into the birthing room with me.
❤️Client said they're terrified of needles? It's right here in my head!
🧡Client has privacy concerns? I'm there with a sheet during the whole labor, covering them and making sure they feel comfortable.
💛Client mentioned their partner fainted after giving blood that one time? I'm right behind them with stool to make sure they're not injured.
💚Client says she wants to feel zero pain? I'm here with all of the epidural info!
💙Client's partner looking a little tired during a long labor? Suggestion for a nap and a meal coming up!
💜Client says they're afraid? Words of encouragement and close proximity a must!
You get the picture. 😉
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