My doula partner Hollie and I recently had the opportunity to talk about doulas on Fox 28's Good Day Columbus. They also interviewed two of our past clients as well as a doula friend of ours who is pregnant and planning to use doula support for her upcoming birth. We had a lot of fun filming!
Here's the segment:
Good Day Columbus had to edit about 2 hours worth of raw footage into a three minute segment, which I'm sure is always a challenge! I think they did a good job of introducing the concept of doulas, especially to an audience who may never have even heard of the term "doula"! Because the segment was so abbreviated I wanted to expand a bit on some things they included.
The segment focused a lot on doulas being useful for pain management. It's true, doulas are trained in, and knowledgeable about, a wide variety of comfort measures which can help you stay more comfortable during labor. Whether it's suggesting a variety of positions to try, utilizing massage, performing counter-pressure, helping you to relax your body, or employing tools from our birth bag, we definitely bring along options for pain management!
But doulas are so much more than that. We offer physical, emotional, and informational support before, during,and immediately following birth. We work together prenatally, helping you understand your options, assisting you in working through any questions or fears you may have, and ultimately helping you feel confident and prepared going into your birth. The prenatal work we do often seems less appreciated before people experience it, (maybe it's just not as flashy as a double hip-squeeze in the moment!) but it really is an important part of the process and allows us to work with you more efficiently during birth.
Additionally, helping you obtain information and navigate your options during labor, being there to effectively process events as they unfold, supporting you immediately postpartum as you're navigating that first baby feeding, providing information and appropriate referrals once you're home from the hospital (and more!) is all priceless.
Doulas are a personalized and comprehensive resource during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. We are not just a tool for pain management!
After pretty comprehensive interviews with both Hollie's and my past clients they chose to show clips of them both talking briefly about pain. Hollie's client talks about how they came up with a code word for an epidural and her client was saying it in her head, but never out loud. My client mentions she had periods of "mind-numbing pain" where she couldn't move or talk. It's unsurprising they focused on these snippets because that's what everyone wants to talk about when it comes to birth, especially "natural" (unmedicated) birth, right?
The truth is, birth is challenging and at times uncomfortable, but so are a lot of things that involve your body working hard. During specific periods birth can be especially intense and challenging, that doesn't mean it's a negative experience.
What the segment left out was the rest of the interviews where the women talked about what amazing experiences they had and how they would love to do it all over again. How they felt empowered and how much of a positive impact doula support had on their experiences.
Like a BFF Who Knows Some Stuff
It was a little off-putting how the promos surrounding the segment talked about things like "strangers replacing dads" or the news anchor who said doulas are like "a BFF who knows some stuff".
Doulas are knowledgeable, experienced professionals who support women and their families through birth. We're not just a "BFF" who has a lot of knowledge about birth. We're not just a paid companion. We're trained professionals who perform a specialized role during the birthing process.
In some ways we are a companion on your journey. We bring an intuitive, calming presence and our goal is to help you have the best possible experience. So, I guess we're a "BFF" in that way.
We're certainly far from "a complete stranger" who replaces your husband/partner. First, we work WITH your partner and help them to support you effectively throughout a process that they're usually fairly unfamiliar with. Second, we definitely get to know each other during the interview process as well as at our prenatal visits. By the time your labor begins we'll feel comfortable with one another and be ready to work as a team.
Things I Wish They Had Included
Again, this was a 3 minute segment. Doula support is multi-faceted and it would take much more time to really explore it in depth. There are a few points important to Hollie and I that we did touch on during filming, but didn't make it into the televised segment:
- Hollie and I are proud to be part of a local organization called Central Ohio Doulas. It's a fantastic group of doulas who are supportive of one another and who are working on both an individual and collective scale to foster positive professional relationships in the community. Sometimes there's an idea that doctors or midwives don't like to work with doulas and while there are certainly a range of opinions, experiences, and understanding out there, our local community is mostly welcoming of doulas. We frequently receive direct referrals from health care providers and have a formal relationship with one local practice. Additionally, one of our local hospitals offers its own in-house doula program. As I said in the interview, doula support is much more mainstream that it used to be.
- Doulas are for ALL types of births! A big misconception that exists is doulas are only useful to people planning unmedicated births. Not true! We have experience supporting a wide range of births. We support inductions, cesarean births, births with epidurals, VBACs, unmedicated/"natural" births and everything in between! We bring specialized support and experience to every situation. One of the cornerstones of how we practice is to offer non-judgmental support to help you have the birth you desire.
- Doulas are evidence-based! Research shows that mothers with doula support tend to have shorter, easier births with fewer interventions. They also have increased success with breastfeeding and a smoother transition into motherhood overall.
Hollie and I love being doulas! We're glad that Good Day Columbus did a segment on doulas and we were honored to participate. We hope we introduced doulas to some new people!