Many time in my profession I get this, "What exactly does a doula do?"
I have answered all the typical responses like:
"Doulas help to keep moms comfortable..."
"We provide physical support, emotional support, and knowledge to the birthing couple..."
"I am there to help the couple, not just mom, to have a great birth experience..."
But then the other day I answered it like this...
"When most people plan to purchase a home, especially their first home, they turn to the help and expertise of a real estate agent. They look around, take personal refferals and finally pick the agent that is the best match for them. This can be a personalty match, or maybe they like the way the look on paper, or maybe they use them because it is the same person their sister used. This agent works sits down with them, ask them what they are looking for in a home, what is most important for them, how the agent can be of best assistance. Then, she goes to work, providing them with information, pros and cons, and then s/he will walk them through the process from start to finish. Once the home buyer/s have found the perfect place, their agent then walks them through the paper work, the inspection, etc. Step by step their trusted friend helps them to get the best experience they can. If there are unexpected things that come up, s/he knows how best to navigate around them. After the purchase is complete, the agent usually follows up to make sure things are going well and to answer and questions they might have once they are in the home. This friendship they created will last a life time. When the buyer is ready to upgrade to a bigger home, they will once again rely on the trust and expertise that their agent provides.
Yes, this is very similar to a doula.
When a couple is expecting a baby, especially their first, they will often start by talking to friends and family. Then, someone they know and trust will mention that they used a doula (or perhaps they will research this on the internet) Then the couple will set out to learn more about what a doula is and how they can help. Then, they will take personal referrals from friends or family or off the internet. After interviewing one or many doulas, they will pick one that is the best match for them. This doula, this birth professional, will then go to work. She will sit down with the couple, ask them what they are looking for in their birth, what is most important for them, how the she can be of best assistance to them during their birth. She goes to work, providing them with information, pros and cons, and will walk them through the process from start to finish. Once the the big day arrives, their doula is there from start to finish. She is providing them with information, alternatives, support, and love. If there are unexpected things that come up, she knows how best to help them make an informed decision. After the birth, their doula will follow up to make sure things are going well and to answer any questions they might have. This friendship they created will last a life time. When the couple is ready to have another baby, often times they will once again rely on the trust and expertise that their doula provides.
I truly believe that my real estate agent was incredible. She was patient and kind, she worked hard for us, and found us the home that we love! My doulas, yes I had two with my second birth, were just the same. They were incredible, they were patient (my second birth was 58 hours) they were kind and loving, and they helped me to have an incredible birth that I look back on with joy.
I have been to may births, and each one is personal to me. I become friends with each family, we create a relationship that lasts years. I wouldn't change it for the world, I value each family and the joy I get from helping them through the birth process.
And who knows, maybe one day I will get to be the doula for my real estate agent... that'd be pretty cool :)
(realestateimage from www.successfulthings.com)
(doula image from birthdoulasofpittsburgh.com)