Seven Things I Wish My Clients Knew

By Nilma Black, 23 May 2019
Being a doula, much like other prenatal or postpartum work, is both an honor and a unique calling. It comes with unmistakable joys when welcoming the new family and little one into the world. But it’s not without its challenges and gained wisdom along the way. There is so much we as doulas hope for our clients as we shepherd them into parenthood. Each birth teaches us something new that can benefit the next mom who is about to go on her own journey – so here’s a little bit of that wisdom I’ve learned along the way.
  1. You absolutely should carve out your ideal birth team – me included! Many of my clients often speak to me about a lack of understanding or support – emotional or educational – from their providers, partners, family, or friends. You may not be able to choose your relatives, but you can and should interview your birth team to make sure they align with your birth philosophies. There are many resources that offer preliminary questions on what to ask your OB/midwife, doulas, lactation consultants, and other birth workers. A similar list of questions can also be found for your hospital or birth center tours. While the idea of questioning your potential team can be daunting, settling for anyone or anything that simply doesn’t fits your needs could be a source of frustration or distraction during labor. And don’t worry: it’s (almost) never too late to change things up if needed. Plus, it ensures that our support will be even more tailored to your needs.
  2. Remember: we can’t speak for you. It’s an unfortunate misconception that doulas take the place of your birth partner or advocate for you with your provider or hospital. On the contrary, a professional doula will serve as your and your birth partner’s sounding board, offering emotional, informational, and physical support during your prenatal, labor, and early postpartum experience. We can encourage your partner to speak on your behalf, or educate you both ahead of time on how to advocate for your needs. Having a doula should bring peace and empowerment to your overall experience. But when it comes to birthday, the decisions are up to you. 3. We can quickly become your confidant. Once you sign your contract with your doula, stay in touch! She’s there to support you for the duration of your pregnancy, so pick her brain on any areas of your pregnancy journey. In addition, she’s likely very familiar with the emotional journey you’re facing, so don’t be afraid to share those feelings. If you picked the right person for you, she should offer a safe space to support your needs and help you work through any excitement or nerves you’re facing.
4. Take a childbirth class. While doulas come with all levels of experience and resources, it’s always a good idea to take a quality childbirth class leading up to birth day. Especially for first time parents, a childbirth class can go over the physiology of pregnancy, nutrition support, breastfeeding, how to write your birth plan, birth partner tips, and pain management strategies. Some doulas even offer both childbirth education and birth support in a complimentary package. Don’t be afraid to ask your doula for recommendations. She likely knows of resources across various philosophies, timeframes, and price points. 5. We’re not squeamish. Doulas are there during your most intimate moments, so they’ve likely seen it all—nudity, blood, poop, and vomit included. It’s a natural part of the labor process, so don’t worry about what your doula or anyone else may think. There is zero judgment coming from her! On the contrary, she’ll likely reach into her bag of tricks to see if she can help make you more comfortable. 6. Setup your postpartum support before baby arrives. Many new parents think they want alone time with baby before the family and friends arrive. I get it. You’d rather love on that little one you just created instead of entertain guests. But while bonding time is crucial for a positive family dynamic, most new moms underestimate the amount of time and energy it takes to keep that little one – and mama – healthy and happy. If you plan on breastfeeding, an on-demand schedule leaves little time for household chores, cooking, or even sleep. Not to mention the emotional and mental toll having a baby can take on parents. That’s where a solid support plan in those first couple of months is crucial. If family and friends can’t help due to proximity or availability, consider a postpartum doula, who can help you with managing a breastfeeding schedule, cooking, cleaning, laundry, as well as emotional support, making sure your self-care is met. 7. Know that I think you’re amazing. Truly! Having a baby is one of the most transformative experiences a mother and family can go through. Regardless of your birth journey, whether it’s picture perfect or with a few bumps along the road, just know you will welcome your baby into this world with your own intuition and resilience. Even if you don’t feel like the warrior princess that you are in every moment of your birth experience, your doula will likely remind you of your fortitude when you need it most.