What Can This Look Like?

 

Physical Support

Doulas support birthing families, to maintain a sense of control, comfort, and confidence. Aspects of physical support provided by a doula may include:

  • Light touch through, massage or foot rub. Applying counter pressure on the hips, lower back, wherever the birthing person feels most comfortable
  • Relaxation, breathing techniques, using a Rebozo or other Spinning Babies® techniques to help fetal positioning
  • Creating a private, undisturbed, calm environment assisting with water therapy (bath, shower)
  • Assisting the birthing person in walking, keeping mobile and various labour positions Ensuring the birthing person is well nourished
  • Applying hot or cold washcloths to the forehead, back, or shoulders

Emotional Support

One of the doulas primary goals is to care for the mother’s emotional health and enhance her ability to have a positive birth experience and feel a sense of pride. Doulas may provide the following types of emotional support to the birthing person and their partner:

  • Continuous presence
  • Reassurance
  • Encouragement
  • Praise
  • Helping the birthing person see themselves or their situation more positively
  • Showing a caring attitude
  • Acceptance of what the birthing person want
  • Helping the birthing person and partner work through fears and self-doubt
  • Debriefing after the birth—listening to the mother with empathy

Informational Support

Doulas support the birthing person and their partner to stay informed about what’s going on with labour, as well as providing them with access to evidence-based information about birth options.

  • Guiding the birthing person and their partner through labour
  • Suggesting techniques in labour, such as breathing, relaxation techniques, movement, and positioning
  • Helping them find evidence-based information about different options in pregnancy and childbirth
  • Helping explain medical procedures before or as they occur
  • Helping the partner understand what’s going on with their loved one’s labour

Advocacy

“Advocacy is defined as supporting the birthing person in their right to make decisions about their own body and baby” Evidence Based Birth Advocacy can take many forms most of which do not include speaking on behalf of the birthing person. Some examples of advocacy that doulas have described include:

  • Encouraging the birthing person or their partner to ask questions and verbalize their preferences
  • Asking the birthing person what they want
  • Supporting the birthing person’s decision
  • Amplifying the mother’s voice if she is being dismissed, ignored, or not heard, “Excuse me, she’s trying to tell you something. I wasn’t sure if you heard her or not”
  • Creating space and time for the birthing family so that they can ask questions, gather evidence-based information and make decisions without feeling pressured
  • Facilitating open and honest communication between the parents and care providers
  • Teaching the birthing person and partner positive communication techniques
  • If a birthing person is not aware that a provider is about to perform an intervention, the doula could point out what it appears the care provider is about to do and ask the birthing person if they have any questions about what is about to happen