By: Kristina Dapaah
It was in the first couple of weeks of my second pregnancy that I decided I wanted to hire a doula. I ran the idea by my mom and husband and was met with two different reactions. My husband was interested, but wanted to know what the doula would do. My mom (who was born in Ghana) was convinced I would be squandering my money. To prove her wrong, I set out to give her information to help her understand the value that a doula could bring to my pregnancy experience.
According to DONA.org, a doula is “a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during, and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.” Doulas operate within their own code of ethics and standard of practice, which are separate from that of a midwife or obstetrics team. They serve as an additional layer of support and care to fill in gaps.
My initial reasons for hiring a doula are far from the reasons I would recommend a doula to someone today. I went into it thinking that I wanted to give birth without an epidural, and saw a doula helping with pain management techniques before and during delivery. Fast forward to delivering during a global pandemic (with only one support person allowed to assist me), I was able to achieve my goal without the physical presence of my doula. And yet, I hold the belief that having a doula was one of the most beneficial things I’ve ever done for myself. Especially during a pandemic.
I came to recognize that the advocacy training and expectation management were useful takeaways from the 3-4 months we worked together. With virtual doula meetings, I went into the delivery room knowing and understanding what I wanted to have happen during and following the birth. I also had a clear vision of what I wanted my pain management to look like. I went in with a birthing ball and TENS machine provided by the Doula and a digital copy of what she called my “birth preferences.” I had the ability to advocate for myself and understand what informed decision-making and consent looked like. This gave me a lot of confidence! That confidence was everything for my family and I during the pandemic. In September 2020 a lot was up in the air, as it still is today! The doula was able to help us keep track of ever-changing regulations around hospital protocols and helped me use my voice in a healthcare system that wasn’t what it used to be. I can recall a situation where I wasn’t settled about doing some obstetric appointments over the phone, (as suggested) to help minimize the risk of contracting the virus. My confidence to speak up about my concerns was a result of the advocacy training I received. We had one in-person meeting (when our city regulations allowed) and it was more than enough. It was hands-on and to the point.
If you are interested in having a doula assist you in your birthing process, be sure to check out Mommy Monitor, which is working in partnership with OCAMA Collective to offer free doula services to Black mothers/parents in Ontario. You can access this service by filling out our intake form HERE.
Blogger | Freelance Writer | Social Media Marketer