"Will you replace me in the birthing room?" "What will I do if you're there?" are questions that get asked frequently, mostly by the birth partner. It is one of the biggest reasons there is hesitation in hiring me, at first. I think this topic warrants a discussion.
It is a good question and one that perhaps requires a detailed answer to. The short story is that NO, your doula WILL NOT replace your birth partner; they will not replace you, birth partner.
Let us first talk about what a doula is. Doulas are trained professionals who provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a birthing person and their family before, during and shortly after childbirth to help them achieve the optimal birthing experience possible, unique to them. This is done through prenatals, mini childbirth education classes, hands on comfort support, and more. The goal of a doula is to empower the family to empower and advocate for themselves. The more we discuss and practice, the more prepared the family will be, and the more empowered they will feel to do the work on their own.
Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, the doctor or nurse will recommend something, and it sounds "matter of fact" and not so much a question. This is where your doula can say "Client, do you have any further questions you want to ask before deciding?" This turns the pressure off of answering and allows you the opportunity to advocate for yourself.
So with that being said, let us begin with the long story. Your doula knows birth. We know the process. We know about procedures and when they are most likely used. We know labor progression and I am about 97% accurate on when it's time to go to the birthing location (the times I've been wrong, the birthing person was further along than we suspected!). We also know the birth you desire, the outcome you want. We know the role your partner wants in the birth story. We discuss all of this during our prenatal sessions. We know comfort measures and can generally tell when it's time to switch positions or try something different. When labor stalls, we can offer suggestions. We know birth.
Your birth partner knows you. They know when you are stressed or worried. They know when you are struggling or about to cry. They know what motivates you. They know how to encourage you. They know how to make you feel better and where you like to be touched. They know what makes you tick. Your doula simply does not. Not enough to truly make those connections during labor. As your doula, my goal is to get your birth partner in front of you as much as you and they would like. To get those gorgeous oxytocin hormones flooding your body. Let's face it...you won't get the warm fuzzy feeling staring into my face in early labor the way your partner will. Your partner knows YOU.
Together, we make up a wonderfully holistic birthing team. We bring to the table, an all-around support system for you to achieve the birth you desire for yourself. I do not replace them; I work with them to support you. I hold space for you. I back away when you need intimacy with them. I help them understand things they may be witnessing that they don't quite understand. I answer their questions when necessary. Ultimately, I am a resource that never leaves both your sides during your birth (pregnancy and postpartum, as well). I do not replace them and never will.
For those who may not have a support person or are birthing alone, I take on the roles you need in the moment you need them. I do not ever want anyone to feel like I am leaving them out and understand birth partners, or none, look different for every family. This is all discussed at our prenatals, where we come up with a plan that fits your situation. That is the wonderful thing about doulas. Our support is unbiased and looks different for every single family we support.
I am so curious (and honored) about why you are here. Does your partner feel like they may be replaced by a doula? What were one of your biggest hesitations on hiring one?
Peace, Love & Babies,