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This past Monday we had a surprisingly large turn out for our monthly Doula Tea! It was a great group of seven local doulas, a couple of seasoned mamas wanting to support the group, two people seeking more information about doulas and the role of doulas, and two expectant couples wanting more information about hiring a doula. We even had two extremely well-behaved children and three adorable little babies 🙂
Now, some of you might be wondering, “What is a doula tea?” Well, Doula Teas are held nationwide – maybe even worldwide – in areas where there are enough doulas to run a regular meeting like this. We certainly didn’t invent the idea. Not all Doula Teas are held on a monthly basis, but since pregnancy is so short, relatively speaking, we believe that it is important to hold Doula Teas regularly so that women who are just hearing about doulas towards the end of their pregnancy will still have an opportunity to meet some doulas and decide whether they would be interested in having one at their birth.
For any readers who are not local, a Google search should pull up Doula Teas or “Meet the Doula” events nearby. If there isn’t one in your town, maybe some of your local doulas would be interested in starting one!
At our meeting we started off by inviting all of our attendees to have a cup of tea. We offer a variety of pregnancy teas as well as raspberry leaf and chamomile tea.
After everyone was situated, we welcomed our guests and began a DONA International film about the role of doulas during childbirth. The film answers the question, “What is a doula?” and has several birth scenes showing how doulas support mothers during birth.
Doulas, as the movie we watched explains, give emotional, informational, physical, and spiritual support to women during labor and birth. Doulas change the way that women are cared for, lower c-section rates, reduce interventions used, and reduce the incidence of postpartum depression.
One of the things stressed by the movie is the importance of talking to more than one doula before choosing one. It’s important to make sure that you agree with your doula about birth-related matters. It’s also just as important, maybe more important, to have a connection with your doula – for her to be someone you would like to have present during your birth.
Birth is a very personal and intimate event and you do not want to have someone present at your birth who isn’t in tune with your needs.
After we finished the movie we went around the room and everyone introduced themselves. One of the most exciting things to me is how many different types of doulas we have in our area. We have doulas who have had home births and doulas who have had cesareans as well as doulas who’ve had subsequent VBACs. We’re a very diverse group of doulas ranging all the way from the hippy dippy to the more medical or informationally-minded. There’s a doula for everyone!
After introductions we had a question and discussion time. We talked about how doulas do not perform any clinical tasks, do not take over the dad’s role during the birth, and doulas do not talk to the care providers about your care other than possibly to ask questions to clarify a situation or to make polite chit-chat with the staff.
Then we talked about what does fall within the role of a doula. Doulas help dad be more comfortable with supporting mom; offer meaningful encouragement, coming from experience, to both parents throughout the labor and birth; help parents know when it’s time to go to the hospital so they can stay home as long as possible but still be at the hospital for the birth; support the mother in her choices; help by explaining pros and cons of interventions; and remind parents that they can discuss their options alone, if desired.
Doulas talk at length with the mother during prenatals about what she wants during the birth and how the doula can best serve her. Some doulas can also provide a fair amount of supplementary or primary childbirth education during the prenatal visits.
When asked why she wanted a doula, one woman present said that she would like a doula because she wants what’s best for her baby. She’ll be able to make decisions more easily because she’ll be supported and there will be someone there to remind her about pros and cons and of her goals during labor. She’ll have someone there to help with pain relief so she can hopefully avoid using medications for as long as possible or have a completely natural birth.
One of the most important things about the Doulas Teas, in my opinion, is that women get to meet several doulas at one time and they get to meet the doulas in person!
When faced with printed or online listings it can be difficult to decide who to call first. By meeting several doulas at one time, women can choose a few doulas to call for a more in-depth free consult, and they can be fairly certain that the doulas they call for consults will be a good fit for them in their unique situation.
We had a lovely meeting – thank you to everyone who was able to attend!