As the world eagerly awaits every detail on the arrival of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s Baby Sussex (it’s a boy and his name is Archie!) we’re breaking down one thing we know for sure about the royal birth: Meghan Markle reportedly used a doula to support her pregnancy and birth.
We caught up with LA-based doula Lori Bregman, author of the new book Mamaste, whose clients include Anne Hathaway, Molly Sims, Kelly Rowland, Kate Hudson, Kristen Bell, to break down the basics of what a doula really does and why we believe more couples should consider using one as they grow their families…
What The Heck Is A Doula?A doula is a non-medical trained professional that supports, educates, advocates, coaches and nurtures a mom-to-be and her partner throughout the pregnancy, birth and postpartum journey. Doulas can help you birth your baby at home, at birthing centers, in hospitals, with or without pain medication — even if you have a C-section or choose to have your baby in the woods, a doula can help wherever and however you choose to have your baby.
Doulas work as a team alongside midwives, doctors and nurses, all with their own parts to play. Doulas do not perform any medical duties, project her own views on you or judge you in any way. Just as each person is unique, each doula has her own way of practicing. Some focus only on the birth, others support through postpartum and some will do both, while others blend extra things from their background into how they practice such as yoga, meditation or massage.
How Does A Doula Support Birth?Doulas will help you work through any fears you might have, helping you find your own authentic way and support you unconditionally. Doulas help you create a unique birth plan, educate you about childbirth, create a sacred space in the birthing room using aromatherapy, flameless candles and soft music. She will also offer comfort measures, guided labor positions and support to help with pain management: massage, guided breath work, words of encouragement and reassurance, positive affirmations, hypnobirthing, meditation and visualization.
Doulas advocate for the mother and her partner and can help facilitate better communication between the parents-to-be and their caregivers so the mom can focus solely on her birth experience. Doctors and nurses may come and go in and out of the hospital room, as do midwives, but a doula is a familiar trusted single person who will be by your side during the entirety of labor and delivery.
Do I Need A Doula?
There is a saturation of information on the internet, in chat rooms and on social media, not to mention the societal pressure to be and do things a certain way. Women can lose sight of what really is personally true in the sometimes overwhelming state of pregnancy. So it may be important to have a neutral advocate (one is who isn’t your mom, sister or best friend) there for support. She can help you discover the kind of experience you’d like to have during pregnancy and childbirth. During your labor and delivery, doulas can help reduce the possibility of a c-section, reduce the need for pain medications (or prolong the time before getting an epidural) help calm anxiety and boost confidence.
Many times women don’t feel supported during pregnancy — too often we are rushed through appointments so fears, worries, questions and concerns go unanswered. When you work with a doula she will support you through the birth, but also throughout pregnancy and post-birth.
What About After Birth?
Women go through a huge transformation as they become mothers — it can be quite emotional. As a doula I integrate life coaching into my practice, so I will always jump on the phone or do an in-person coaching session to help work through these emotional seasons. Post-birth you may not see your doctor until a 6-week check-up (though with midwives, it may be sooner).
Postpartum doulas will bring food that promotes healing, use holistic remedies, do light cleaning, errands, walk dogs and/or watch the baby so you can sleep and shower. She will also offer a reassuring ear. They take care of you so you can better care for your baby. Doulas offer the support and nurturing that doctors and caregivers may not have time for.
How + When To Hire Doula?
My intention with any birth is that my clients feel supported, heard and cared for — I want them to have a beautiful birth experience. I have found that most women and couples always remember how they were treated. More doctors are starting to work alongside doulas, all with the goal of supporting the mother.
You can start with a doula as early or as late as you wish in your pre- or post-birth journey. Most people I work with start the second they take a pregnancy test. I typically support women through the entire journey, not just the birth. This way I have time to build a solid relationship with my clients and really get to know them and understand how they operate. The more time I spend with my clients the more they trust me. Because of this they feel safe, and I will be able to tune into what they may need during labor and delivery .
When choosing a doula I suggest meeting with her to see if you resonate with her philosophy and vibe well. Ask about her about her level of experience. Also ask how many births she takes a month, if she has a back-up doula and if she has experience in the location you will deliver and/or a relationship with your care provider. Most importantly, notice how you feel around her because, after all, she will be holding space for you on one of the most sacred and important days of your life.