Alissa Wehrman

What is a Doula?

012pmh-j004My main goal as a birth doula is to help you and your family have a positive birth experience, and therefore a more joyful transition to parenthood.  After all, labor does end.  When people feel well-cared for, listened to and that they are an active part of their labor and birth, they feel more positively about pretty much everything.  We can’t always control the way babies come into the world.  But at the end of the day when a doula is on your team, you can expect to feel better about your journey.

The role of a birth doula as a part of your birth team is unique.  Our role is often the only continuously present, familiar face that will be with you and your support team through out your labor and birth.  Nurses come and go, your doctor or midwife will change shifts in hospital.  Even at home, often times your midwife doesn’t arrive for the birth until much later in your labor, or transferring out of their care is a possibility.  Having this comforting presence- someone who knows your history, hopes and concerns- present with you the whole time goes a long way.  I have been described many times as the glue that stuck the whole process together.

My role also differs from the support of your family and friends, since I can remain unattached and therefore calm and clear-headed no matter what might be happening.  From personal experience, it’s hard to stay solid when you are watching someone you love go through an intense experience.  Even if you’ve seen it happen hundreds of times.  And since I don’t make medical decisions about your care, I am free to listen to your concerns and help you ask questions that will assist you through the journey feeling whole, respected and well-cared for.

Since each labor and birth is unique I have learned many, many ways to help laboring parents through it.  A birth doula has the tools and positions, the perfect words of encouragement or validation for the moment, and the forethought to get the warm blankets ready for you when you get out of the bath tub.  We are also trained to be invisible at times, when we aren’t needed, but I am always ready to step in at the appropriate time.  It’s not about me, in the end.  I want this experience to be one that you and your family can look back on positively for the rest of your lives.

benefits of a doula

While providing better medical outcomes isn’t the reason I became a birth doula overall, it is something that I see in my practice and am proud to affect when possible.  It’s usually a side effect, though, of good care in general.  When a family feels calmer and informed, things tend to go better overall.  Recently, a study was released detailing the many medical benefits of having continuous support during labor from a doula or other community member that is not a part of the medical team or a part of the family’s social network.  You can read more about those benefits here.

If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it. ~ John H. Kennell, MD