Birth | The role of a Doula | Johannesburg and Pretoria Birht Photographer
“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” -J.K. Rowling
The importance of a Doula
From the moment you receive the good news of a precious baby on the way, medical care becomes your first priority. Everyone knows that pre-natal care is important – doctors … scans … healthy eating… you monitor everything, track every change in your body and share all the big news with loved ones. From the baby’s first kick to choosing a name, every moment is big and every moment is exciting, but at the same time every moment can be a little scary! Sometimes we can be so busy focusing on the medical side of pregnancy, trying to do everything perfectly that we forget to focus on the emotional aspects of being pregnant. The start of a new, life changing chapter, can be very scary for Mom and partner alike. This is where a doula comes in. She is there to offer the emotional support a family might need as they go through the beauty of pregnancy together.
The word Doula is from the old Greek and it means “Woman’s servant”.
In practise, a Doula really lives out this meaning. Doulas are also known as birth companions, birth coaches or post-birth supporters, which really tells you everything you need to know about these precious souls. They are non-medical companions who support an expecting woman by providing continuous care before, during, or after childbirth. They are not only a supply of wisdom and knowledge to an expecting mom but they also offer immeasurable amounts of physical and emotional support. Although a doula and midwife both fill important roles in the lives of pregnant moms, a doula differs greatly from a midwife. A doula’s role is to walk a road, and build a relationship, with mom, dad and baby, while a midwife offers her support during the birthing process only.
Before the birth
Most doula/Mom relationships start a few months before the birth. When a couple knows they need to prepare for a child, the doula will step in to start easing them into this new phase. Mom can ask the doula questions she may have or share any fears with which she may be struggling. The doula in turn ensures Mom stays happy and healthy emotionally. The doula will also play a big part in the creation of the birth plan. A birth plan of course being a simple, clear statement of your preferences for the birth of your child. There are so many aspects of birth to consider that it is best to have another best friend at your side to help you put it together.
During the birth
During delivery the doula will be close to the new mom’s side at all times. She will be there to bring emotional comfort as well as help ease the pain of birth by offering advice with pain-relieving or relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises. This is whether you are opting for a natural birth, medicated birth or maybe having a c-section. At this stage the partner is also assisted in how to support Mom and make the experience as smooth as possible.
After the birth
Once the hard work is over and baby has been welcomed into the world, the doula steps in to ensure the rest of the birth plan is followed. She will be the voice of the tired, overwhelmed mom and make sure that the correct steps are taken postpartum. This includes facilitating the ever important first moments of skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby, as soon as possible after the birth. Once Mom and baby have had a chance to connect, the doula may guide Mom as she breastfeeds her little one for the first time. The doula will even offer support in aiding the bonding process between baby and the other people that are present at the birth. There are so many other new and overwhelming experiences for the new parents to go through within the first few days after the birth! The doula can help ease them through these experiences, offering emotional support and guidance as she does.
In short the doula is there to help you have the best, magical experience possible with your little miracle – before, during and after the birth!
I have had the privilege to work with many wonderful doulas and I would like to say thank you! Thank you not only for your servant heart but also for what you are doing for woman. In a place of vulnerability you aid us in being strong, in a place of insecurities you reassure, in a place of fear you speak hope!
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“I have been delaying writing my birth story. It has taken me a while to process the events from that day, and the days and few weeks following, and to be okay with not writing a ‘perfect’ story with perfect English. I truly hope that being real about the latter, and that which follows, will make at least one other mom out there, facing a similar experience, feel less alone in having had a ‘good but not perfect’ birth
This is our story. Yours? Well I don’t know, but I truly hope that it is magical. That you will be strong and brave. That you will know that YOU are a birthing queen, regardless of the birth you have or the plans that you make, because life has a funny way of working out just right…
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