12. A doula can find out the current climate in the hospital where you intend to birth through their contact network.
11. A doula can prepare you for typical hospital procedures and interventions in your local birth facilities, giving you a greater sense of control.
10. A doula can help you to figure out your deep values and true priorities for this birth, given your unique circumstances.
9. A doula can preview all the decisions you’ll need to make about your new child’s care in the first twenty-four hours, so you won’t feel rushed and anxious. You’ll feel prepared for all the paperwork by making choices ahead of time. This is really important to do if there’s another parent’s perspective to consider.
8. A doula can practice relaxation, breathing exercises, and stretches for typical pregnancy discomforts with you.
7. A doula can prepare you for labor, covering simple remedies for labor pain, positions, and other comfort measures. A doula can help you create a coping ritual for labor that continues to build your confidence as you do it.
6. A doula can help you to write a simple birth plan and “how to help me” labor support list for your nurse.
5. A doula can suggest five different ways to build a relationship with your nurse. Developing a connection early and maintaining it often can make a difference in how you feel cared for and listened to.
4. A doula can counsel you on how to handle your unique emotional and mental health needs, especially if you will be separated from your loved ones. Together you can develop a plan on what to share with your attending physician or midwife and nurse to get the best support you can.
3. A doula can help to coach you through early labor and early active labor at home, and be available by phone, text or video chat throughout your labor and early postpartum.
2. A doula will listen to you share your birth story over and over again, helping you to make sense of what happened, what influenced your care, and how you feel about it.
1. A doula can make sure your postpartum gets started out well by providing resources and referrals for more support.
Need to find a doula? Try www.doulamatch.net - it's FREE! Also many doula organizations, local and international, have listings on their web sites.
No local doulas? You can find a "virtual doula" by using that term in your search engine. But many doulas are now offering that service, so contact a doula whose listing or web site you like and ask!
Amy L. Gilliland, Ph.D., AdvCD/BDT(DONA), CSES (AASECT) is a research associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the first DONA International birth doula trainers, an adult sexuality educator, and an infant mental health expert with specialized training in attachment. Her work has been published in multiple peer reviewed journals and in her new book, The Heart of the Doula: Essentials for Practice and Life. To sign up for her newsletter, upcoming podcast and other materials, or to see her latest video and download her 8 page guide "If You Must Labor 'Alone' " visit amygilliland.net