Even in Asheville, where doulas seem to be pretty commonplace, we're still met with puzzled looks (and misconceptions) more often than not when folks find out we are doulas.
So here's a little diddy on the Top 5 things we hear when people find out we're doulas:
5. Doulas sound great, but I had my baby in the hospital.
Doulas are pretty great, and many doulas primarily attend hospital births. Doulas of Asheville doulas actually don't attend any planned home births. Our doulas only attend births at hospitals (Mission, Park Ridge, Pardee, Haywood, Harris Regional) or the WNC Birth Center.
We 100% support home birth as a safe option for many people, and there are many doulas that do attend home births, but our business insurance doesn't cover us at home births. At the hospital or birth center, our doulas work in collaboration with your chosen medical care providers to foster a calm and peaceful environment where your wishes are respected and you feel cared for and supported.
4. So you deliver babies?
Not at all! Yes, we are present for our clients' births and we LOVE being with them as they meet their babies. It really is such a privilege. But we are not there for any medical care at all. Our clients' care providers (OBs, RNs, Midwives) have the skill and responsibility for their patient's medical care, we get to focus on all the non-medical stuff.
What non-medical stuff? So much!! We provide LOTS of emotional support in the form of encouragement, validation, and information. We help to explain what's happening and reassure our clients that everything is ok and normal (even when it feels completely not!). Or when things are veering outside the range of normal, we know how to support our clients while things are feeling out of control and scary. We are by your side, holding your hand, and calming your nerves no matter what.
Doulas have extensive training and experience in providing comfort to our clients while they are giving birth. We know just how to massage, hip squeeze, and rebozo you through your most difficult contractions. Sometimes we're playing the role of official "fetcher" - a sip of water, a cool cloth, a quick snack. We are always carefully observing each moment and assessing how to best help our clients cope with the difficulties of childbirth. We are facilitators of connection, calm, communication, and comfort during a time when most people feel unsure, unstable, and pretty darn uncomfortable.
3. I'm planning to get an epidural so I can't have/don't need a doula.
LOTS of people who hire a doula get epidurals! We get hired ALL the time by folks who have an epidural in their plan from the start. For many others, it's a strategy they have in their back pocket just in case. Some want to avoid any medicine all together but choose to have an epidural at some point. Whatever your reason for choosing an epidural, there is SO much a doula can do to support your experience.
Even if you know you are going to have an epidural at some point, there is typically a good amount of laboring to work through without any meds. We're there to help you cope until you get that epidural. And even once you do request an epidural, it can take some time. And boy oh boy, that period of time between asking for the epidural and actually getting it can feel like an E T E R N I T Y. We'll be with you helping you cope until the CRNA arrives with the good stuff.
Even after an epidural is placed and you're comfortably riding out labor wondering what you were waiting for ;) There's still more your doula can do to support you. You'll still be moving some even with an epidural, we can work with your RN to rotate you from side to side. We can also help you use a peanut ball to keep your hips open encouraging your baby's descent. When you aren't resting, we can offer you a gentle massage for relaxation, or just be present with you. We'll continue to support you in many of the same ways we do without an epidural. We're by your side through the entire process, connecting with you and your partner and helping you feel safe, strong, and supported as you bring your baby into the world.
2. I would have had a doula but I didn't want a "natural" birth
Isn't all birth natural? Sure, sometimes there's more help on the medical side of things. But birth is birth is birth. And doulas support people giving birth. Whether that's completely drug-free, with the help of medicine, or under the care of a skilled surgeon providing a cesarean section. No matter what your birth looks like, and whether the outcome was what you envisioned or not, a doula is there to support, guide, encourage, and care for you, no matter how your birth unfolds.
1. That's so cool! You must love your job!!
Oh my gosh, yes! It's not without its challenges, but this job is such a gift. To be present with families during that magical time where their baby takes its first breath. To bear witness to our clients becoming mothers and fathers brings us to tears every. single. time. We have the very unique privilege of being with people throughout their long wait to meet their babies, we are present when they hold their baby for the first time, and as postpartum doulas, we get to continue that journey with them into parenthood. There is magic in this work and we never take it for granted. We're so humbled and honored to be welcomed into such a sacred and special time.