"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
- Mark Twain
A birth doula's job is to help the love and affection that you share with your partner manifest itself into the physical support you need during birth.
During the pregnancy, she can help you find a care provider (OB/Midwife) that fits your personal needs and financial considerations. She can help you decide between childbirth educators, find nursing bras that fit your growing form, get you in touch with chiropractors/massage therapists/acupuncturists that specialize in pregnancy car. Your doula can bring to your attention ideas, articles, websites, and procedures, that you might find of interest. She can help you define questions you might have for your care provider—which can strengthen the trust and communication you need to feel confident of their support at the birth. Your doula can help empower your pregnancy.
During the birth, the doula will be looking a few minutes ahead. What will you and your partner need? Food? Water? A bathroom break? Is the current position working? Might it be time to walk around the block? Have the contractions slowed indicating it might be time to rest? Your doula is keeping the larger picture in her head so that the two of you can be in the moment. Her expertise is available for you to tap into if you have questions. She will not make decisions for you, but can remind you of what you talked about throughout the pregnancy. She can help keep the birth room calm so that you can birth as you wish. She can suggest different positions to manage the birth process. She can help navigate the room so that your partner is where you need him/her at the moment he/she needs to be there. Your doula can help empower your birth.
After the birth, your doula can help keep the space around you calm so that you can bond with your new baby. She can offer guidance in nursing, infant care, and can be a source of postpartum resources should you need them. She can help empower your entrance into parenthood.
In Los Angeles, we are blessed to have doulas of all ages and personalities. That means your perfect doula is just an interview away. First google "your city" + "doula" then start making calls. Ideally, your doula helps you fell safe, calm, and confident.
Here are some ideas to think about --
1) Would you like to spend 12 hours in a row with your doula?—Chemistry is so important. If the most experienced doula in the world annoys you, then she's not your doula.
2) At the core of your being, do you trust her?—Your doula is one of your partners in this process. It's best if you believe her when she says, "You're amazing."
3) Do you want to follow her suggestions?—Your doula will encourage you to drop your shoulders, go to the bathroom, drink a glass of water, and walk around the block. Your gut instinct should be to agree with her rather than put up a fight.
Good luck and have a gentle birth!