One question I get often is 'what does a doula do?' While there are doulas for many stages of life, pregnancy & postpartum, I often describe specifically how I hold space.
During pregnancy, I meet with the birthing family 3 times in person & offer support in between. During our visits, we focus on:
How I support & what they feel is needed.
Mapping out a birth plan for when the day comes.
Practicing contractions & labor stations to feel out breath & comfort in the body as well as discussing calming & support measures.
I meet with the family, because I'm often there to support more than one person. If the birthing person has another birth partner there to support, that person will often experience tiredness, hunger, maybe high stress. I support all involved.
In between these meetings, I support the birthing person with mindfulness measures to prepare for labor, delivery & beyond. Mindfulness is a useful tool that can be taken forward into life. The measures I use include but are not limited to: yoga, meditation, pranayama (breath work).
My package includes 10 private prenatal yoga sessions. Yoga is especially comforting during pregnancy since it weaves in mindfulness.
During the labor & birthing process, I am there to support from active labor on. Active labor is typically around when contractions are 4 minutes apart, lasting at least 1 minute & it's been happening for at least 1 hour. This is typically the time people should head to a birthing center or hospital if not birthing at home.
I offer support in the way of moving through laboring positions, providing relief with mindfulness/breath, assisting in & out of tub or shower, through massage & affirmations, & providing support through the birth plan. I stay through the birthing process & up through the golden hour (1 hour after birth). I can support in many other ways, if needed, like taking pictures or video or breastfeeding support.
After babe has arrived, I visit the family once they arrive back home to offer help with anything: taking care of babe while parents sleep, cleaning house, cooking a meal or what was previously discussed.
I often think of myself as a type of cheerleader, but it goes so much deeper than that. If you have specific questions or ways I can support, I'd love to help.
Nasreen 'Nikki' xx