9 Ways to Get the Most out of My Doula (Advice From a Fellow Mama)

Pregnancy and Postpartum Care for Everyone

Getting the most out of your doula involves clear communication, setting expectations, and utilizing their full range of skills and knowledge. Here’s how you can maximize the benefits of having a doula support you through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum:

1. Communicate Your Needs and Expectations

  • Early Conversations: Start by discussing your expectations, fears, and preferences for your birth and postpartum experience. Be clear about what you envision and how you hope your doula will support you.
  • Birth Plan Assistance: Use your doula's knowledge to help formulate or refine your birth plan. They can offer insights on what might be realistic and advocate for your wishes during labor.

2. Leverage Their Knowledge

  • Resource Sharing: Ask your doula for resources on childbirth education, breastfeeding, newborn care, and any other topics of interest. They often have a wealth of information and can direct you to reliable sources.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask questions, no matter how trivial they might seem. Doulas are there to support and educate you.

3. Utilize Their Support Network

  • Referrals: Doulas typically have connections with other birth professionals. If you need services beyond what your doula provides (e.g., lactation consultant, pelvic floor therapist), ask for referrals.

4. Stay in Touch

  • Regular Check-ins: Maintain regular communication with your doula throughout your pregnancy. This helps build a stronger relationship and allows your doula to tailor their support to your evolving needs.
  • Postpartum Support: Remember that doulas can provide significant support after the birth as well. Discuss postpartum visits and how they can help with the transition to parenthood, breastfeeding, and newborn care.

5. Be Open to Guidance

  • Receiving Advice: Be open to the advice and guidance your doula offers. They bring experience from many births and can provide valuable insights and suggestions.
  • Flexibility: Understand that birth can be unpredictable. Trust your doula to support you in making adjustments to your birth plan if necessary.

6. Feedback Loop

  • Provide Feedback: Share your thoughts and feelings about the support you’re receiving. Constructive feedback can help your doula adjust their approach to better meet your needs.
  • Debrief After Birth: Arrange a time to discuss your birth experience with your doula. This can be therapeutic and is also an opportunity to provide feedback about what was most and least helpful.

7. Emotional and Physical Support

  • Embrace Emotional Support: Beyond logistical and informational support, doulas offer emotional support. Lean on them for reassurance, encouragement, and a listening ear.
  • Physical Comfort Measures: Take advantage of your doula’s knowledge of comfort measures like massage, positioning, and breathing techniques to help ease labor.

8. Advocacy

  • Your Advocate: While doulas do not make decisions for you, they can advocate on your behalf. Ensure you’ve discussed how you’d like them to support you in communication with medical staff.

9. Understand Their Role

  • Clarify Roles: Understand that doulas provide support and advocacy but do not perform medical tasks. Their role is complementary to the medical care you receive from your healthcare providers.

By actively engaging with your doula, expressing your needs and preferences, and leveraging their expertise, you can enhance your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience. A strong partnership with your doula can provide you with valuable support, information, and advocacy during one of the most significant times of your life.