Why Do You Need a Doula Anyway?
Black women need Doulas just the same as white women need Doulas. In other words, it is not an elite thing or class thing, it’s a women thing. Having a baby is a life changing event which requires care and preparation, love and support, encouragement and empowerment. Above all, no one should go it alone, especially black women in todays world. Black maternal mortality and infant mortality are catastrophes that can no longer be ignored. Black women need to be heard and equally cared for by their provider to avoid unnecessary interventions and unsure the safety of our lives. Having a doula alongside you can fill that gap in care.
I’ll share with you three of my reasons why Doula support is beneficial for black women, aside from just in labor.
I am an advocate for birth rights, for your choice, and you as the best decision maker for you and your baby.
What do Doulas Provide?
Many people assume the purpose of a doula, is only for the labor and making sure nothing bad happens in the hospital. Or additionally, that she powers up the diffuser and lights candles, however, while parts of that are true ,an important scope of our practice involves the time spent before pregnancy.
Emotional support helps the birthing person feel cared for and feel a sense of pride and empowerment after birth. One of the doula’s primary goals is to care for the mother’s emotional health and enhance her ability to have positive birth memories (Gilland, 2010b). During prenatal visits, doulas get the privilege of being involved in your life on a personal level.
It is an integral part of the care we can give you to help make your labor and postpartum better in a number of ways. Caring for my clients personally, helps to build a trusting and comfortable relationship.
Some examples of emotional support are:
- Continuous presence
- Showing a caring attitude
- Praise, acceptance of what the birthing person wants
- Helping the partner work through fear and self-doubt
- Debriefing after the birth
Firstly, the worries, the stress, the loads we bear, can sometimes be a lot to carry. Along with, being pregnant and bringing a new person into the world, there can be a lot to discuss and work through. I provide as much care and attention during prenatal visits similarly as in the hospital.
My main focus as your doula is YOU, I work for you by listening and understanding your needs. It is my driving force and most important detail.
I also educate you on common hospital practices and how to advocate for yourself. In the hospital, it can feel like the women’s needs and well-being are not heard which can make her feel powerless. Her wants are overshadowed by the providers fear of something going wrong in birth, which breeds more fear and uneasiness in her, therefore how can she feel comfortable and empowered in that situation. If that occurs, it can be an opportunity to slow down the room and bring back to attention your wants. Doulas want to create a collaborative environment by respecting the provider but also making sure the birthing women feels safe and respected.
In all, these are just a few, but there are plenty of more awesome reasons why doulas are a special part of your birth team. I hope we can continue to make Doulas a norm in birth, especially with women of color!
"I can't imagine my birth experience without my doula. She is a big reason why I am one today. I also personally, had to dig deep in myself, assess my fears, and truly take head to what I valued in order to get the birth I wanted and felt I deserved. Its possible and empowering to be bold and to believe in yourself"! -Charissa
Happy Doula International Week!
- Charissa Young
Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula, Prenatal Yoga Teacher