Everything you need to know before choosing a Doula

Congratulations on your pregnancy! You have entered a wonderful phase of your life where you will be bombarded with information of both good and bad quality and advice both solicited and unsolicited. Somehow pregnancy, birth and parenting attract an ample amount of all the above plus an endless streaming service of opinions on your choices that would put Netflix to shame.

How to find the right support for you? Being choosey is the best politics!

People are presented with so many opportunities during pregnancy. This article aims to provide you with a little guidance to select the right support for your birth journey.

Doula training

Generally speaking, most women choose to train as Doula following their birth experiences. There is a certain misconception lingering that a person should only be a Doula if they have given birth before. While this sounds very lovely, it isn’t completely right. Would you only allow a heart surgeon to carry out an operation if they had heart surgery? Also, many midwives and obstetricians don’t have a family because they are just not at that stage in their lives yet or will never be due to their very own personal choices but this doesn’t mean they are not excellent at their profession.

It is important to mention that a Doula’s value is not measured by the number of children they had or by the way they have given birth. Pregnancy and birth are as different as we, humans. When choosing your Doula, it is better to look at their online reviews, websites, or other online presence and read their mission statements. You could also ask your friends or turn to mummy & baby groups on social media channels to ask for recommendations.

Once you have your list, begin contacting them to arrange a free, non-obligatory chat to meet them! When you arrange the first meeting with a Doula ask as many questions as you can think of, don’t be shy, Doulas love to talk and we are very passionate about giving the best personalised support to our clients.

What to look for in a Doula

Core values: compassion, kindness, knowledge, understanding, ability to keep their personal stories from clouding their judgement (this links back to what I mentioned above), positive communication, humour, s-t-r-e-n-g-t-h (you must ask how much she benches – kidding!).

Is she warm and kind? Do you see strength in her eyes? You will highly likely need both personality traits. Can that very Doula be warm and mothering enough that you can rest in her presence? Do you see a reassuring strength in her, that ubiquitous vibe that sends you the message that she will stand up for you when it’s needed?

Doulas may be trained in homeopathy, aromatherapy, hypnobirthing, biomechanics for birth, pregnancy yoga and massage and so on.

Some Doulas pick a special field like working with twins or working with women who are coming from disadvantaged backgrounds or with teenage pregnancies. Some Doulas work especially with people from the LGBTQ+ community. However, a good Doula will support you the right way even if she isn’t necessarily specialised in any of the unique situations mentioned in this list.

Why?

Doulas just have the knack for being TEAM YOU. If you click with a Doula but she hasn’t got experience in your unique case I would still suggest going with your gut feeling as the personal connection is the most important factor.

A few very important things to note about Doulas

A Doula supports YOU, your choices and your decisions. A good Doula won’t push her choice of an ‘ideal birth’ or an ideal parenting style on you.

If you choose to have an elective section; an induction; if you wish to give birth in a hospital or at home; if you wish to free birth; if you cannot stand the thought of a water birth; if you choose to bottle feed; if you choose to breastfeed and so on…

A good Doula will bring you ample resources, and arm you with information so that you can make the right choices to suit you and your family the best way. There is no one-size-fits-all, we are all unique human beings, and we, Doulas are fully aware of this. Sometimes it does happen that your decision change throughout your pregnancy and that is completely normal. A good Doula is there to support you with compassion and she should be highly adaptable to any circumstance.

It is amazing to see 10+ years of experience, it is dazzling to hear that they supported many home births but at the end of the day, it all boils down to a gut feeling you should be listening to when you choose your Doula.

This watershed is marked by your gut feeling… Which of the Doulas you met would you be thrilled to share one of the most important events of your life with?

Choosing a Doula is a fully emotional decision

A Doula works with you and with your family throughout your pregnancy, is present at your birth and supports you during the postnatal period. Of course, this is also a very flexible approach. You may choose a Doula to work with you purely antenatally and not be present at your birth. Or you may choose to have only a postnatal Doula. The possibilities are endless, for that very reason which I have mentioned above…Doula support needs to fit you and your lifestyle, needs and wishes. A Doula will listen to your fears, wishes and support you in the decision-making process. Most Doulas are very well-informed and have undertaken an array of different courses and certifications.

‘Doula wisdom’

Doula wisdom is where ancient knowledge meets modern science. There is something special about Doulas. They are your guardian angels, they support you throughout your pregnancy, ease your worries, and share their secret wisdom with you…

During your labour, a Doula is PRESENT. This presence is a watchful presence, an alert presence but also a peaceful presence because she knows and understands YOU, your birth, and what is happening within your body during this precious time.

Her movements are choreographed by Doula Wisdom…

Doula support doesn’t force, doesn’t threaten, doesn’t coerce you into doing something because Doula support is Wise. You see, it is all soft and silent but FIERCE when it comes to protecting your wishes and rights.

Those families who had a Doula will tell you, we often just watch during labour and birth and step in when it is appropriate this can be speaking up for you without overstepping boundaries, getting you moving or into different positions, telling you how amazing you are and the list goes on and on… We don’t take away space between you and your partner or between you and the professionals.

A few words about my specialties

Psycho-social-spiritual-cultural approach, birthrights, professional antenatal education, HypnoBirthing, Biomechanics for birth, background in midwifery, belly dancing, breastfeeding support, advocacy, bilingual support (Hungarian and English) and birth trauma counseling (this includes evaluating your previous birth notes). I write extensively about these topics on my website and my social media channels. You can read more about it here Happy choosing, you will make one of the most valuable decisions of your life!

Photo description: me and my Doula client in the company of ‘Doula doggy’ who participated enthusiastically in each sessions. Since this photo was taken my client gave birth naturally without any pharmaceutical pain relief in a matter of few hours! Congratulations!!!

With Womanly Love, Bernadett

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