Blog for Beyond Basics Physical Therapy: How a Birth Doula can help make labor a more intimate experience
How a Birth Doula Can Help Make Labor a More Intimate Experience
Pregnant mothers may be unsure if they want to work with a doula, because they would like their labor and birth to be an intimate experience between them and their partners and wonder whether having a doula would encroach on their intimacy.
The role of the doula is to help ensure a healthier, safe and positive birth experience for the whole family. She will provide emotional support, physical comfort and the information needed to make informed decisions as they arise in labor at home or at the hospital. She will provide reassurance and perspective to the birthing woman and her partner, offering position ideas for relaxation and labor progression and hands on comfort measures like touch, massage, counter pressure and breathing techniques.
One may wonder how an intimate experience can be enhanced with the presence of a doula and the medical staff.
Intimacy generally refers to the feeling of being in a close personal association and belonging together. It is the familiar and very close affective connection with another as a result of a bond that is formed through knowledge and experience of the other.
This intimate experience can be created by having the partner taking a role in the birthing process. The experienced doula will include the partner.
The doula's presence offers a great sense of relief for both of you, especially for your partner who may begin to feel concerned with the responsibility of supporting you and may not know what normal is in this situation. If you're having an intimate moment with your partner, an experienced doula will know when to step in and when to step back. She will encourage and allow you both to have that moment. In fact, she will look out for and suggest opportunities for you to be together. She will gently pull your partner back if your partner is feeling overwhelmed or feels worried seeing you in pain and give your partner the tools to help support you. If your partner needs a break or a breath of fresh air, the doula will be there, so that the partner can take care of themselves knowing the doula will take care of you.
The role your partner takes depends on the two of you. If your partner would like to roll up their sleeves and offer physical support or prefers to remain emotionally present from a distance, your doula will guide you. The doula may suggest ways for your partner to hold you or breathe with you. She can show your partner ways to massage and apply pressure for you. If a partner cannot participate physically for various reasons, they may choose to assist in other ways like getting ice and water while the doula manages the physical part or simply remain emotionally present in the room.
The intimacy is in the experience, allowing your partner to remain confident and emotionally present with you.
Whether your birth is unmedicated or medically complex, every family can benefit from the guidance and support of a doula at this often vulnerable and overwhelming time in their lives.
Chantal Traub, CD, CCCE, LCCE
Chantal is a Certified Doula and Childbirth Educator and has been assisting expecting families in the New York Metro area since 2003.
She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.