Q. Why would we want a doula? Wouldn't that be like having a stranger at our birth?
A. Unless you know your doula before pregnancy, they do start out as a stranger. During the course of your meetings, though, you get to know each other. They get a good feel for your needs and desires for birth, and you experience the way they care for and nurture new families.
What expectant families don't often realize is, the day your baby is born, your doula might be the only person in the room (aside from family and friends) who ISN'T a stranger! The option of choosing your medical birth team is not always available. In offices with many practitioners, you may meet with all who may potentially catch your baby, but rotation schedule is most likely the factor in deciding who will be there on your baby's birthday; likewise, a practitioner in a solo practice -- if unavailable -- has a back-up whom you may not have even met before. In these situations, a doula can help remind you of your birth intentions, and they can support you and your partner no matter who is on your birth team that particular day.
Q. My partner is planning to be my support-person -- what good would a doula be then? Wouldn't they make my partner feel displaced?
A. Most partners plan to be the main support person during birth -- and a doula doesn't interrupt this plan. A partner's support is different than anyone else's on the birth team: The partner is the only one at a laboring person's side because they LOVE, care about, and have a great interest in the outcome and future for parent and baby.
Every partner is ready to participate in the birth process at varying levels. Some are very comfortable with the scenes, sounds, and smells surrounding birth; others need a little more space to process the events going on. Regardless of level, a doula supports birthing parent and partner where they are at, and helps bring them where they wish to be. Doulas allow birth partners to participate at the level THEY are comfortable with.
Q. How else can a doula help besides actual birth?
A. All doulas offer prenatal support before birth. This is a time to learn about birth options, birth planning, and expectations for becoming parents. In addition to this, many doulas also offer breastfeeding support, infant/mother massage, postpartum doula services, information about local resources, and a continued listening ear about the transition to parenthood.