Why this podcast?
I recently completed all the requirements for my Birth Doula certification and was feeling inspired to write a post on doulas. I happened to stumble upon the PregTASTIC podcast and decided it would be a good time to feature them again.
Then I realised that I hadn’t featured them at all.
So, not only did I find an episode on doulas but I get to feature a whole new podcast too.
PregTASTIC describes itself as –
“A weekly online radio show by pregnant women, for pregnant women about the fantastic journeys to motherhood”
It’s actually not so new. This podcast, in fact, seems to have stopped making and releasing new episodes.
The website link from their facebook page no longer works and the last episode was released in early 2012.
Having said that, there are still over two hundred and fifty episodes already out there so it’s still a great resource.
How does it look?
Episodes tend to be in the thirty to forty minute range and have covered, well, A LOT of topics.
Topics include pregnancy photography, acupuncture, babywearing, birth stories, belly casting, baby-proofing your marriage, preterm labour, the first days and weeks after birth, medical myths of pregnancy, ultrasounds, adjusting to being a mum, tips for an unmedicated birth, twins and VBAC amoungst many others.
Why this episode?
I love that this episode explores what a birth doula is and how they can support you.
Who should listen to this episode?
Anyone who is expecting or hoping to be expecting soon and who wants great support during their pregnancy, birth and immediate postpartum.
This episode features France Wilson, a nurse and birth and postpartum doula.
She defines a birth doula as someone who is there to support the mum and partner during the pregnancy and in labour and a postpartum doula as someone who is involved after the birth.
This episode focuses on birth doulas but I plan to feature an episode on postpartum doulas in the near future.
France suggests that parents-to-be interview a few doulas to see who they feel a click with. It is so important to be comfortable with your doula as you need to be open with them, trust them and be totally comfortable with them being with you during an intense and vulnerable time.
Every doula will do things a bit differently but France says she offers massage, can accompany her clients to prenatal appointments and helps to educate them about birth.
As far as meeting with a doula prenatally, it is pretty standard to meet twice for a couple of hours each time. France states that she will meet with a client as many times as they wish but this is quite unusual.
Are birth doulas welcome at the hospital?
France underlines that it is important that the doula be respectful of the care providers and she also points out that as a doula, she has no medical responsibilities and can, therefore, focus solely on the mum and partner.
What can’t a doula do?
Apart from not doing any medical procedures, a doula should not speak on the client’s behalf. France mentions that sometimes, during the intensity of labour and birth, the parents may not be in a position to question any procedures or interventions that may be suggested.
What can she do?
This is where the doula can gently ask the mum (or better still, the partner) if they are ok with what is being suggested, if they have any questions or if they’d like some private time to discuss it before coming to a decision.
A doula will help keep the atmosphere calm and relaxed and work toward maintaining a positive atmosphere.
Many people wonder if a doula will usurp the role of the partner but actually, a doula will be there to support the partner as well.
Sometimes a partner may need a break, some fresh air or a bite to eat or to make a call.
With a doula there they can go and do those things without having the worry of leaving the birthing woman alone.
A doula can also help to reassure a partner, especially if they have never witnessed birth before, that what they are seeing and hearing is normal.
That it’s ok.
Perhaps most importantly, they can give suggestions and ideas to the partner of ways they can support the birthing woman so that they really work as a team during labour- that’s a pretty great way to launch into parenthood.
There’s no ‘I’ in team
Often, the doula and birth partner will end up working together to support the birthing woman.
One may be applying counter pressure to her back whilst the other holds her hand and breathes with her.
At the first birth I supported as a doula, the partner would vocalise with his wife during a surge and I would talk her through it, reassuring her that it would pass, reminding her to relax and breathe and underlining how well she was doing.
At the end, she said how much she had really needed both of us to support her.
Birth is often a very intense experience and a lot of people don’t realise that until they are in it.
Having a doula there with you can make such a difference to your birth experience.
To wrap up
I have to say I am not sure that this episode got into all of the ways that a doula can support you during your pregnancy and birth and a few things that the featured doula said sounded a little off to me.
However, it gives a general idea of some of the ways a doula can offer support and I liked that the hosts did not jump in too much; the doula was able to speak freely and let her words flow.
If you have experience of doula support I’d love to hear from you.
Other episodes on this topic
Birthful – Birth Doulas
Emily Wills is a doula based in Stockholm. She believes that birth can be a beautiful and empowering experience and started this blog as a way of sharing some really great podcasts. She is also a mother of three and an enthusiastic runner.