IThe word doula comes from the ancient Greek word for "woman slave." HA!
Today, a birth doula supports birthing people and their families during pregnancy and childbirth. Birth doulas provide emotional, physical, and informational support. This takes a lot of different forms, such as helping parents research their birthing and parenting options, changes in position to ease labor, visualization, encouragement, and much more.
Doulas are non-medical professionals. Doctors, nurses, and midwives are responsible for the medical well-being of the birthing person and their babies - that's already a lot to handle. In between charting, care for multiple people, and shift changes, they often do not have enough resources to provide continuous, undivided care. That's where doulas come in!
In addition to birth doulas, there's also postpartum doulas. Postpartum doulas help after baby is born with breastfeeding support, newborn care tips, light housework, nutrition planning, and newborn sleep.
The Austin Doula Scene
In Austin, we have a huge community of wonderful doulas. Our doula culture here has deep roots and paved the way for many birthing people today to have access to options and informed choice! We're also a group of women who want to see each other grow and support one another's birth work endeavors. I can't say enough how grateful I am for the doulas here!
Many of them are listed on the Central Texas Doula Association's website here. Some aren't listed so finding referrals from friends that you trust in your community, and parent-focused Facebook groups (**Austin Natural Moms**, Ladies with Babies) can be helpful in finding the right fit for you.
Some doulas in Austin are also placenta encapsulation specialists, massage therapists, licensed social workers, herbalists, and so much more! In addition to specialization, each doula's energy will blend in with a family a little bit differently - if you're more high energy, you'll love a doula who can match yours and keep up with you! If you're introverted and need time to get to know someone, there's bound to be at least 1 in our area that'll fit the bill!
Creating A Birth Team
Many people worry that doulas take over the role of the partner or family member at the birth. In fact, doulas complement their roles!
Doulas can't replace the emotional connection that partners and family members have with the birthing person. However, as the baby is born, partners and family members have their own emotional journey to process through as well as needing rest for when the newborn arrives.
Doulas doula the birthing team. They remind the partner and family to rest, eat, and take care of themselves. Doulas will also teach the birthing team different comfort measures to help be more hands on during the birth. The doula's role is to enhance and complement the birthing team, not to minimize it!
Doulas help to maintain an energy of positivity, focus, and keep a calming presence in the birthing room. A doula's role is to remind everyone that the sensations of birth are normal, to help everyone's day go more smoothly, and to remind the birthing person how amazing and beautiful they are.
Stay tuned for next week's post on how to hire a birth doula! Share your story of how you found out about doulas or as your call to birth work in the comments below!
If you're ready to take next steps now, then feel free to contact me directly and we can set up a free consultation.