May is National Doula Appreciation month. That means we moms fortunate enough to have a doula get to thank the women who stood by our sides. Doulas offer support during what may be the most excruciatingly painful/joyful times in our lives. For those who don’t know? A doula offers emotional, social, psychological and physiological support to a woman (and family) during labor and in the immediate postpartum period.
I tip my hat to these women. They cheer us on while we are in our most vulnerable state. I’ve experienced two labors — one with a doula and one without. And the results were very different. When I had a doula? I felt like I had someone looking out for me and my family. Her support and attunement to my needs in the constantly changing environment of labor and delivery were spectacular. I delivered my second daughter at Vanderbilt Hospital, and my doula, Beka Watson, was by my side at all points during the labor. After my experience, it’s clear to me that doulas deserve our appreciation.
10 reasons to hug a doula today:
- Doulas are on call 24/7 and are trained to support your pregnant self even when your hormones play with your emotions and nerves: when you are two weeks away from your due date and you need to talk to someone about how you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT DO THE LABOR THING AGAIN.
- They respond to phone calls and texts at all hours, like when you are a week past your due date and you are sure that your unborn baby will never emerge into this world. You inform your doula that you just know you will perpetually remain pregnant until you die or your feet turn into round balls due to the excessive swelling or you can’t fit through a doorway because your unborn child is now 20 pounds in your itchy belly and still refusing to come out into the world. She listens wisely and tells you it’ll be okay.
- They are patient, gentle and present and are trained to deal with stressful situations.
- Support. Their job? To support YOU and the decisions you make for the labor and delivery. They offer advice when asked but cheer you on in your decisions.
- Someone needs to stay calm during labor and tell you to breathe while you are attempting to push a watermelon out of your vagina.
- Our husbands needed support during labor too. Our doula spoke my husband’s love language: coffee.
- They are strong. My doula stayed awake with us during a long labor, talked me through some rough contractions, listened and encouraged through each stage, affirmed me when I needed it, listened to me cry after I pushed for three hours and ended up with a c-section, then cheered me on as I was wheeled into surgery.
- They remind you how strong you are when you feel as if you can’t do pregnancy/labor/pushing/nursing anymore.
- They know how a soothing voice, the right words, a gentle massage, calming music, deep breathing can ease a little bit of the pain.
- In your memory they will forever be tied to what can be one of the most life-changing experiences in your life. In that way they will always hold a special place in your heart.
If/when we have more children, I will be sure to have a doula by my side. For those of you who know a doula, give them a squeeze today. They deserve it.