A woman is at her most vulnerable yet incredibly powerful space during the moments that her baby is born. A doula by her side at this time helps her in this passage without being judgemental and offering her unconditional support - helping her focus on the process, filtering out distractions and encouraging her throughout. She is a sister, a friend, a guide, an aunt, a mother figure who has gone down that path herself and/or has supported other women at this important juncture. She supports the mom and her partner with compassion and helps them make informed decisions while respecting their choices. A doula is someone who keeps in mind the mother and child’s best interest, and is on the same page as the couple, aware of their wishes and without any personal agenda.
By getting to know the parents-to-be in depth during prenatal meetings, she builds trust and connection. She educates them about the various birthing options and ways to facilitate a natural birth, assists the couple in making their birth plan, and is present with them during labor and birth. During birth, she provides invaluable emotional support and ensures that the mother is relaxed, has sufficient energy, and is well nourished and hydrated.
A woman never forgets the way she is made to feel at the birth by her care providers – for the hospital staff it may be just another woman in labor and another child born, but for the mother it’s a very sacred, special and empowering moment. Especially today, where families are smaller and are living further away, it’s not often that women come in close contact with moms who have had an intervention free, positive birthing experience let alone seen one! Others in the family may be too emotionally involved to rationally think at the time or even know what to expect. A doula fills this gap. A doula believes in the woman’s body and its capacity to bring forth a baby and she reminds you of it at the moment when you need to hear it the most. She will not provide any medical support to deliver the baby but empowers you respectfully, compassionately and, if needed, firmly too. She provides the much needed emotional support to the mother and her partner.
After being nurtured and nourished for almost 10 months a new little human begins his/her life as an individual, separate from it's mother, from the moment of birth. A doula nurtures the mom through this transition of being pregnant, birthing the baby and then beginning to care for the little one. She checks in on the mom-child duo postpartum and provides any support needed for establishing breastfeeding or to smoothen the mom’s recovery and healing. Overall having a doula by your side can provide some invaluable 'mom and child centric' support. No matter what the birth outcome is, the emotional connect and the empowered decisions she facilitates leaves a lasting impact. As one of my favourite quotes goes “We have a secret in our culture and it’s not that birth is painful, it’s that women are strong”. In my experience a doula helps in harnessing and passing on that collective strength and courage at the most precious moment of birth.
For me personally, having a doula with me during my VBAC was like having ONE person who was batting for me. Someone who really “got it”! Someone who could finally understand and connect to my belief that a natural birth is what was best for me and my baby. I lost my mom when I was very young and I never really got to know about her birthing journey or even my own birth in details. But my doula helped me feel my mom's presence at every stage of my pregnancy and birth.
My doula didn't ‘do it’ for me, that's not what she was meant to do in the first place. Nor did she do anything ‘to me’, unlike what the doctors or nurses did especially during my first child’s c-section birth. But she played a very important role in materialising what we – my baby, me, my husband and my first born toddler - could do together and for each other as a team. And for that I owe her my gratitude.
BBN is proud to have in our team, Celestina Cavinder - a BBN Veteran and a board member, who is a certified CAPPA Labour Doula. Tina has been supporting parents to be have an empowered birth experience by being there for them before, during and after the birth to provide them with whatever is needed to encourage the mother and her partner to prepare and execute their birth plan. You can read more about her here.