Everything To Know About Having A Doula


Bringing a new life into the world is one of the most profound experiences a parent-to-be can have. Amid the excitement, anticipation, and anxiety, having the right support can make all the difference. Outside of your partner, parents, and friends, you might be curious about what a reliable, unbiased source of care could look like for your birthing process, and that’s where a doula comes in.

What Is A Doula?

While thoughts of an ethereal, peace-baring godmother may come to mind when imagining a doula, these trained professionals provide continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to a mother before, during, and after childbirth.

“We tend to fill in that spaces that the [medical] system don’t support,” Sabia Wade, a Full Spectrum Doula, Author, and CEO of Birthing Advocacy Doula Trainings & For The Village Inc. tells xoNecole.

“A doula says, ‘Let’s sit down and talk about your ideal birth plan, what to do if things go in a different direction like needing to have a C-section or other medical interventions, and how to advocate for yourself and the medical terms you’re going to hear throughout the process,” she explains

Sabia-Wade-doulaSabia Wade, a Full Spectrum DoulaCourtesy of Sabia Wade

New parents often experience a mix of excitement and worry, particularly concerning generational trauma, and parenting approaches, or feel grief over lifestyle changes. Doulas are there to support expecting mothers by offering guidance and being a reliable, knowledgeable presence. “At the end of the day, I need to know how you’re doing,” she says. “We want the parents to have their own voice, so we stand in the space of being the translator.”

The Birthing Experience With Doulas 

Doulas often meet clients at home between the 30-37-week mark and assess how the client is feeling, whether they need rest, movement, or emotional support at that time.

“We’re doing a lot of education before so that when we get into the birth space, you come in with a base knowledge that helps you be a little bit more grounded,” Wade says. “We work on normalizing the birth experience because most people don’t see birth until it’s time to give birth.”

From setting the atmosphere with the right music, from jazz, ambient sounds, and even Trap, to lighting incense, palo santo, or lavender, this time is all about setting the right mood to ensure the mother’s comfort.

“Every doula has their own flair, but I come into the space and check on my client to see how they’re doing, what they’re feeling, and getting oriented to the space,” she explains. “Then I start making the room the way my client wants it to be.”

Doula and Medical Professionals

With the mortality rate for Black women being significantly higher than rates for White and Hispanic women, doulas coach mothers to navigate conversations with doctors and nurses to ensure they understand all options, make informed decisions, and advocate for themselves effectively.

“It’s important for a doula not to talk directly to a doctor since we’re not the ones that are receiving care,” Wade says. “Instead, I’ll coach the mother or their partner and say, ‘Let’s figure out if this C-section or vaginal exam is urgent or not,’ — let me tell you what they said and you tell what you heard. Then let me help you ask the questions to make sure that we’re navigating this in a good way.”

Benefits of Having a Doula

Studies show that doula-assisted mothers were “two times less likely to experience a birth complication involving themselves or their baby, and significantly more likely to initiate breastfeeding.”

From fewer C-sections, shorter time in labor, fewer negative childbirth experiences, a decrease in postpartum mood disorders, and improved communication between pregnant people and their healthcare providers, the continuous care of doulas is proven to produce better birth and postpartum outcomes.

Finding The Right Doula For You

When determining how to obtain doula services, it’s essential to first clarify your financial situation. Explore community resources or organizations that offer free doula care, and check your health insurance coverage, as some plans may include doula services, particularly through Medicaid in certain states.

From prenatal care to postpartum support, the relationship with a doula can span one to two years, underscoring the importance of feeling safe and comfortable with them. When finding the right fit in your doula, one might take into consideration the shared background, age, communication styles, educational approach, gender and sexuality competence, and overall care and demeanor.

Ultimately, trusting your intuition and honoring your journey into motherhood, without feeling the need to justify or rationalize your feelings or concerns, is key. “You were this person before becoming a mother, so we’re going to hold that person and then hold your motherhood too,” Wade says.

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Featured image courtesy of Sabia Wade

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