Yay! I am finally certified as a Los Angeles Birth Doula! Can you see me doing the happy dance?
Since 2020 put the kibosh on so many sessions, I took this time to study…and study…oh, and study some more! Finally two weeks ago, I became certified birth doula through Mardiella.
What Is a Birth Doula?
“A Doula, or childbirth assistant, is a labor support person who has specific training and experience in providing informational, emotional, and physical support during the childbearing experience, especially during labor and immediately after the birth”.
The Five areas of doula support are:
1. Emotional Support
2. Physical Support
3. Informational Support
4. Partner Reinforcement
There is so much going on with an expectant mother, the very first thing we, as doulas, will do is listen. I mean really listen, without judgement or thinking about what to say. Actively listening and holding space for a mother to express herself is so important.
In a nutshell, “Emotional support is being able to identify what another person is feeling with accuracy and is able to respond in an appropriate, compassionate, and empathetic manner.”
Evidence shows that the best kind of support during birth is someone who knows about birth, is unaffiliated with the hospital, and is also not a member of the birthing person’s family. You do not have to worry about offending a doula as you might with a family member. If the birth plan begins to deviate, doulas are an extra person that can answer questions if staff gets too busy to answer.
A doula provides physical support primarily during labor, but also by demonstrating positioning and massage techniques that can be used by the partner before labor begins.
There are different touch and massage techniques a doula can use, depending on what the mother finds helpful. As labor progresses, the doula may cradle the woman in her arms, wipe her brow, massage her and use other forms of touch as she educates her about what is happening to her body and in the birth of her child. She can instruct the partner or birth companion in doing the same, helping him or her to soothe the mother.
As your doula, we would meet at least once before the birthing day. You can ask and express as much or as little as you want. Maybe you would like information about where to birth? Perhaps you have concerns about pain and pain management options or you need help writing out your birth plan.
Informational support helps keep the birthing person and their partner informed about what’s going on with the course of labor, as well as provides them with access to evidence-based information about birth options.
Despite the quality and amount of childbirth classes and preparations they have made, partners are sometimes nervous about the labor and birthing process.
The presence of a Doula can help birth partners participate at their own comfort level; showing them how and when to use various comfort techniques, providing information, and in some cases, looking after them as well. Partners are often grateful to be able to share the “coaching” responsibility with someone more experienced, and can therefore, enjoy the birth experience more themselves.
Self advocacy means that we (the doula) empowers a woman to speak up for herself in the delivery room. We do not speak on your behalf.
When births moved from home to hospitals the mothers lost much of the control they had in the birth arena. They became patients having procedures done to them instead of women in control of a process that is a natural function of their bodies.
Even in a hospital a woman can be in control, or can at least feel like she has more control if the doula helps her state her wishes in a clear and realistic manner.
Advocacy can take many forms—most of which do not include speaking on behalf of the client. They include:
- Encouraging the birthing person or their partner to ask questions and verbalize their preferences
- Asking the birthing person what they want
- Supporting the birthing person’s decision
- Amplifying the mother’s voice if she is being dismissed, ignored, or not heard, “Excuse me, she’s trying to tell you something. I wasn’t sure if you heard her or not.”
- Facilitating communication between the parents and care providers
- Teaching the birthing person and partner positive communication techniques
What a Doula is Not
A doula is not a medical worker. We do not give medical advice, supervise a birth or prescribe any medications. The Doula is there to bridge the gap between medical professionals and expectant parents. They do not make medical decisions, but they do explain medical procedures to the parents when they are necessary.
Becoming a Los Angeles Birth Doula
There are many training and certifying doula associations. Since the doula profession is not regulated, they are all just as officially valid as the other. However, some of them are bigger, better known and are seen as more legitimate in the profession. Some of them respond to particular needs or niches in the birth community.
I chose Madriella. Madriella is a licensed, certified online doula training facility that offers several different types of certifications. You can also get hands-on training given by approved workshop providers, experienced doulas that want to pass on their knowledge to other women (which is the heart of the Madriella philosophy).
If you would like to talk about adding doula services to your birth photography package, message me and I will be happy to talk with you. Having a Los Angeles birth doula can not be underestimated!