One of the advantages to starting this pregnancy thing a little later in the game (wow, 29!) is that I’ve gotten to see most of my friends go through this process two or three times already. I’m fortunate to have several friends with similar birth philosophies who pursued natural deliveries, and I get to learn from them.

Several of these friends credited doulas with their positive natural birth experiences. Some of my readers may not know what a doula is, and a few years ago I didn’t either. After talking to a lot of people, Brett and I have decided to have a doula at this baby’s birth. So I wanted to share what we’ve been learning.

Doula comes from the Greek word meaning “helper” or “a woman who serves.” Now, it is the term for a woman who is experienced and trained in providing emotional and physical support during pregnancy and birth. Women who use doulas statistically require fewer interventions during birth and report greater satisfaction of their birth experiences.

Today, natural births are a small minority in the US. Hospitals are not used to supporting women who desire to have a natural birth and generally push medical interventions that are now deemed standard. I’m a big fan of medical intervention when there’s some sort of actual medical emergency, but I don’t think those things should be standard for a normal, healthy pregnancy and delivery. A doula is an extra support person, someone else on your team with your husband to provide knowledge, encouragement and experience to help you labor according to your birth plan.

A doula is not a substitute for the husband or a medical professional. She will not be delivering the baby. She might help with labor positions, provide massages, create a calming environment, and possibly keep you from killing your husband. ;) Or so I’ve heard.

With my obstetrics group, I know the doctors and midwives we will be working with are very supportive of pursuing a natural birth, but we thought it would be helpful to also have someone who would be in the room with us for the entire labor process. Our doula’s name is Lindsey, and her website is very informative. She is a certified doula who has attended over 50 births, and we are excited to work with her. We’re learning as we go, and I’ll be sharing along the way.

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