Common Questions and Misconceptions about Doulas: Q & A with Doula Natasha Trapp
Have a baby on the way or thinking about little ones in your future?
Natasha Trapp of Quiet Waters Doula Services is here to answer your questions about all things doula! From hospitals to home birth, medication to massage, a doula will help you plan and follow your birth plan.
Let’s ask Natasha some questions!
Q: What is a birth doula, and why would one want a doula at their birth?
Natasha: A doula is a trained labor companion that provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support.
There are a lot of benefits of having a doula at one’s birth. They include decreased C-sections, decreased use of medications for pain relief (like epidurals), decreased use of extra interventions (like Pitocin), and shorter labor. Having a doula increases satisfaction with the birth experience. There are really no risks associated with doulas.
Doulas can explain what’s going on during labor and birth, and provide reassurance. If interventions are suggested, doulas can give the mother more information, or encourage her to ask the right questions to make informed decisions.
Doulas have a lot of comfort tools in their bags (and also their hearts and hands) that can help the birthing person to have a more positive experience. These include soothing touch, massage, hot or cold packs, rebozo techniques, suggestions for positions, moral support, reassurance, and verbal affirmations.
Q: Are doulas only for those mothers who want to give birth at home?
Natasha: Doulas are for any mother who wants to be supported during birth. We attend births at hospitals, birth centers, and at home.
Q: Won’t a doula impose her own beliefs about birth on the mother and make her have an unmedicated birth?
Natasha: The doula’s true agenda is to help ensure that the woman’s birth plan is acknowledged and followed as much as possible. Doulas don’t project their own values or goals onto their clients. Doulas don’t make any decisions for their clients. Sometimes, if the labor gets intense, and things are happening quickly, the doula might be the only person in the room actively trying to make sure the mother’s wishes and the birth plan are respected as much as possible.
Q: My partner is going to be at the birth. I’m concerned the doula will replace my partner.
Natasha: Doula doesn’t replace the partner. Doula knows pregnancy, labor and birth, and the partner knows the mother – together, they make a great team. If the partner wants to be more emotionally involved, the doula can take care of physical comfort measures. If the partner wants to be hands on, the doula can show him or her techniques (some of them require quite a bit of muscle, so they are perfect for partners).
However, sometimes, partner feels overwhelmed by the birthing experience, and by seeing their loved one in pain. Doulas provide support to the partner, too, from making sure the partner has something to eat, to just checking in to see how he or she is doing and validating feelings. If the partner feels overwhelmed and wants to chill in a chair or go for a walk, they can do that, knowing that their loved one is in good hands with her doula. The partner doesn’t have to be solely responsible for the mother’s emotional and physical well-being.
Q: Wouldn’t my nurse (or midwife) be supporting me? Why would I need a doula?
Natasha: Nurses and midwives can be compassionate, but their role is very different from that of a doula. Nurses and midwives are focused on clinical tasks: monitoring the baby’s heart rate, taking mom’s vitals, performing vaginal exams, charting (there is a lot of charting!), and catching the baby. They are usually extremely busy. Even if they wanted to provide emotional support or skills for physical comfort measures, they usually don’t have the time.
Also, medical staff usually has shifts. Once their shift is over, they leave, and you get a new person taking care of you. Doula, on the other hand, stays with you through your entire birth (with occasional exceptions), so you always have the comfort of a trusted person in your corner.
Doula works for the birthing person, not her care provider or her hospital. The doula has the mother’s needs as her sole priority.
Q: Natasha, why did you want to become a birth doula?
Natasha: I feel that birth is such an important event in a life of a woman. This experience can affect the woman for the rest of her life: physically, emotionally and spiritually. A traumatic experience may hinder bonding between the mother and the new baby, while an empowering experience might give the mother that extra oomph to handle the difficult phase of taking care of newborn while being sleep-deprived and exhausted. I want to help mothers have a positive birth experience, and a strong foundation to their life as a family.
Q: How can people contact you?
If you would like to contact me directly with questions or information about doula and birthing services, I would love to hear from you!