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But what does a Doula actually do?

This is a question I am asked frequently and I thought the best way to explain might be through storytelling. This is the story of the pregnancy, birth and postpartum of baby 'A', as told by her Mama. She wrote this specifically for me share about the role of the doula in supporting her family. Thank you Mama xox

"We met with a few doulas early in our pregnancy. When we met with Lisa via zoom we just knew we had found our doula. Lisa was reassuring, warm, kind and experienced in trauma. This was important to us as our first birth had been very traumatic.

We first met with Lisa in our home around 20 weeks and mapped out our birth plan. She helped to debrief some of the trauma I was holding onto from the first birth and released fears through talking it out. Lisa really listened to us both. Her birth plan template was so easy to follow and encouraged us to make many decisions we hadn't even considered, including unexpected outcomes.

We remained in contact via email or text with questions or extra reassurance needed in between appointments which helped us to feel connected. We next met with Lisa around 35 weeks for an active birth session which helped my partner to feel really involved in the birth of his baby. This was important as he felt pushed aside in our first birth. We learned how to apply the tens machine that Lisa lent to us, acupressure points, various positions for labour and pushing, massage and breath work, the power of the mind and how to set up our hospital room to feel like a calm environment. Lisa encouraged us to attend a Calmbirth course this time around and we absolutely loved it! The course really gave us the confidence we needed to birth again, this time on our terms.

The day that labour began I sent Lisa a text to say that I was having mild surges but not to come right away as I was enjoying resting and having alone time with my partner. A few hours later we called Lisa to meet us at the hospital as the surges had increased in intensity quite quickly. Lisa met us in our hospital room and her warm hug was just what I needed in that moment. We were both relieved to see a familiar friendly face and her energy was so calming but also full of excitement for us. She told me "you're going to meet your baby so soon" and that reminded me that the intense surges were bringing us closer to holding our baby in our arms. It felt like Lisa gave us extra energy right when we were beginning to feel tired.

Lisa created our space just as we had planned which was a relief because my partner didn't need to leave my side. She hung the affirmation cards and photos on the walls, closed the curtains and turned off the bright lights, laid out small candles, made the room smell beautiful with essential oils and every now and then I heard her soft words of encouragement. My partner later told me that he would often look to Lisa for reassurance and she would give him a smile or nod to let him know everything was unfolding beautifully which helped him to focus on supporting me without fear. he had been very fearful during our first labour and it was a nice change to feel his calm energy this time.

Throughout our labour Lisa suggested different positions, made sure I was eating and drinking, offering hip squeezes or showed the acupressure points to my partner. She helped me in and out of the shower or bath, offered so much encouragement when I felt I couldn't labour any longer. Lisa helped to slow down my breathing and really supported my partner to stay connected to me when labour become quite intense. It was all the little things that made a difference for us like when I said I couldn't do it anymore and she told me "you already ARE doing it" which helped me to focus on breathing my baby down. There was a point I felt I could not continue with labour as I was so exhausted. Lisa rubbed some peppermint essential oil on the back of my neck, helped me change positions and held me while I cried. She told me that I was birthing alongside women all around the world right then in that moment which I had never considered prior. All of a sudden I felt connected to my feminine power. It was the very next surge that I felt the urge to bear down. We met our baby girl not long after.

Our beautiful big 4kg baby was born vaginally and without medication after 12 hours of labour. Lisa was with us for 8 of those hours and I don't think we could have done it without her. The support she gave to both of us throughout is not something we would have received from hospital staff as they are just too busy to remain in the room for the entire time. It was during those small moments of doubt in the dark of the night when we really needed to be held.

Lisa stayed with us for a couple of hours after 'A' was born. She supported me with getting 'A' to latch for her first breastfeed, got food for both of us, helped me up to shower while my partner had skin-to-skin, helped me to dress and then tucked me into bed for a sleep. Lisa gave me a kiss on the forehead and told us we should be so proud of ourselves. We were so proud! And so grateful for her support.

Lisa checked in with us via text each day and sent us photos of the labour, birth and baby which we will treasure forever. I was able to ask a couple of questions but mostly it was just so nice to have her ask about me. Most people ask about the baby and forget about Mama. Lisa visited us on day 3 which was an emotional time with hormones and breastfeeding challenges but such a relief to see her again so soon. Lisa played with our toddler for a while so that we could sleep with the baby. When we awoke Lisa had made lunch for us all and folded a mountain of washing.

We decided to book Lisa's postpartum doula package that day and so Lisa visited us each Thursday for a few hours for the first 6 weeks. Sometimes we would just sit and chat about what was coming up for me emotionally over a cup of tea. There's so much to navigate in those early weeks and it really felt like Lisa cared deeply about our family. Lisa normalised a lot of what I was feeling which helped me feel like I wasn't going crazy. I just needed to hear that I wasn't alone in my thoughts or feelings. Sometimes Lisa would help with the washing or do a quick vacuum but mostly I just really enjoyed her wealth of knowledge about all things parenthood and newborn care. She encouraged us to find our own way of parenting, set boundaries with family, ask for specific help from our circle, allowed us the space to figure out what we were doing as a new family of four and never judged or gave unsolicited advice. Some days she would hold our baby so I could take a bath or sleep, especially when my partner went back to work. The days feel longer when you are alone so I always looked forward to our Thursdays with Lisa.

I highly recommend the support of a doula for birth and postpartum. We have had two vastly different experiences and we put that down to Lisa's support. Everyone deserves a doula!

Thank you Lisa. You have gone above and beyond in your role to support us and we are so grateful for you xx"

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