Updated: Aug 5
I’ve worked in this field long enough that I can recite my spiel about the work I do in my sleep. I understand the ins and outs of this job and I connect with the deeper meaning of what it is we do as doulas. I see the transformation of the families I work with and I witness clients pull a strength out of them that surprises even themselves and their partners.
BUT WHAT IS A DOULA?
WHAT DOES A DOULA DO?
WHAT DOESN’T A DOULA DO
Let’s play a fun little game of comparison with a field of work you may be all too familiar with.
The realtor works closely with a person/family to find the perfect home for them and helps them navigate that often scary and complex process. Let’s establish what they're not: a realtor is not the builder. They're not the inspector. They're not the mortgage company. They don't tell you what kind of house you have to have or what square footage is best. They don't require a specific architectural style or interior paint color. And most importantly they don't decide on what house you’ll ultimately buy. You do.
They work with you to help you set goals. What kind of home do you want? What size? Location? What are your must haves? Do you anticipate having a family and needing space to grow? What can you sacrifice? What are you nonnegotiables. How do you want to feel in the space? They spend time connecting with you to better understand your goals and expectations. They'll help show you the steps to finding those homes. They might even put together a fun algorithm in a program so you get emails with the homes that match those criteria. They'll walk with you through each home and ask you questions about how you feel, what you like, what you don’t. They understand more deeply what it is you want with each house you see. They help you access resources. Need an inspector? Need a contractor? What about that window guy? They know what’s what in your area and can point you to the most relevant resources. They understand the process. What contract needs to be submitted by when? What inspection date? Oh right, the mortgage! What wording might work best in this paragraph to help us get what we want in the offer process? What the hell does that phrase mean in the counter offer? They translates the jargon of the industry. They'll reexplain what the builder meant when he went off on that 10 minute rant about the foundation issues. And if all hell breaks loose, they're the calm in the storm, guiding you like a lighthouse in the stormy sea. A shoulder to cry on when 4 offers fell through and all hope seems lost. And the most important part of your relationship with a realtor: they walk with you every step of the way. Providing informational and emotional support. Could you buy a home without a realtor? Sure. But you’re in for quite the complex journey that can be difficult to navigate when you aren’t familiar with the process like they are. And now you understand the role of a doula. The doula is not your doctor. They're not your nurse. They're not your partner or your mother-in-law. They don't decide what kind of birth experience you want or make decisions for you along the way. They're an expert in options and showing you what’s available to you. They help you set goals and ask what you want out of the birth and postpartum experience. They get to deeply know your family & establish the big picture. They find out what a healthy postpartum experience means in your mind. They walks you through how to achieve those goals. They know all the resources in your area (OB/GYNs, hospitals, Pediatricians, chiropractors, boutiques and all their products, parenting groups, therapists, etc).
And they know the process. They understand the policies and procedures for the various hospitals. They are an expert on what a healthy and normal postpartum recovery looks like. They recognize red flags in pregnancy and in your baby and point you in the right direction to get the help you need. They have wonderful relationships with you and your baby's medical team. They answer your questions when things feel confusing or overwhelming, like what early labor looks like, or options available for feeding your baby, or even ideas on how to reconnect with your partner as you navigate the rocky terrain of the postpartum experience. They understand the ins and outs of a complex and overwhelming process. AND WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE AND YOU’RE SCARED AND DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO….THEY'RE THAT CALM WITHIN THE STORM; A SHOULDER TO LEAN ON. Your doula walks with you every step of the way. Could you deliver or raise baby without one? Sure. But you’re in for quite the complex journey. There’s nothing more comforting than knowing you have expertise and guidance from a professional who is in tune with you and the process you’re going through.