Why Should I Consider a Doula? 12 Questions with Doula Barb of birth | Fort Worth
by Annie Roberson, MT-BC and Barb Davis, CD-Labor, CBE
Today, we’re talking with Barb Davis, CD-Labor, CBE to talk about all things doula! Barb is a dual certified birth & postpartum doula, childbirth educator, Texas Dept. of Health Breastfeeding Educator, and Placenta Encapsulation Specialist and the founder of Fort Worth doula practice birth | Fort Worth.
1. What is a doula?
A doula is a certified professional that is knowledgeable in all aspects of pregnancy and birth. We aren’t medical providers, which means we won’t offer medical advice, listen to your baby or check your cervix. Instead, we better the birth experience by serving as a bridge between the medical nature of birth and the desire many birthing individuals have to lessen the medical feel of their birthing experience.
We excel at offering judgement-free support and expert guidance throughout the entire pregnancy and birth experience. During labor, we help with things like breathing & relaxation techniques, helping you know when it’s time to go to the hospital, labor positioning and hands-on comfort measures, and infant feeding support, including breast and chestfeeding guidance.
2. What are the benefits of working with a doula?
According to a large Cochrane review, laboring individuals who received “continuous labor support” were more likely to have “spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have any pain medication, epidural, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, and cesareans. In addition, their labors were shorter by approximately 40 minutes and their babies were less likely to have low Apgar scores at birth.”
Now, in plain speak, that means that you won’t be alone during the labor process. You’ll have an expert to ask questions, both throughout your pregnancy and during labor, and when you want some company, your doula even joins your while you’re at home, waiting to head into the hospital or birth center. We take the pressure off of your partner so they can do what they do best; we can be the ones that think two steps ahead, listen to your sounds, analyze your contraction pattern, give solid hip squeezes and make sure your partner feels supported along the way, too!
3. Who should hire a doula?
Everyone! While a common misconception is that doulas are just for “natural births” (what does that mean, anyway?) the reality is we work primarily in hospital and birth center settings, with folks choosing all sorts of different ways to meet their baby. We can absolutely help you rock out an unmedicated birth or claim that victorious VBAC but we can also help you labor comfortably during a planned epidural or even cesarean birth! The need for support, guidance and help feeding your baby is there no matter how you choose, or need, to meet your baby.
4. Can I work with a doula even if I don’t want an unmedicated birth?
Absolutely! No matter the outcome of your birth, vaginal vs cesarean, medicated vs un-medicated, when a laboring person feels heard and respected, their feelings about that experience will be drastically different than a person who didn’t get that same respect. Being an active participant in your own birth will help you to feel empowered and that will change how you feel about your birth! No matter the outcome, things weren’t “done to you”. You were a part of the process and had a say in what happened to your body and your birth. Doulas give you the tools you need and remind you of the power of your own voice.
Read more about why empowerment is important for your birth in these posts:
5. What should I look for when hiring a doula?
First off, ask around- your care provider is a wonderful place to start but also ask your mom-friends or social media. Once you’ve gotten a few names, interview! You’ll want to make sure whoever you choose has undergone a reputable training and is certified. This is important because, should the need arise, you will have a way to file a complaint or hold your doula accountable via her training org.
Before even meeting your doula, ask about availability; ensure they have time around your expected delivery date and won’t be doing any traveling. You’ll also want to ask about their experience; how many births have they attended? What type of birth do they attend most often (if you’re planning a hospital birth but your doula does mainly home birth, this might be a red flag; or not- but ask!)? And, when will I get to meet my backup? Many, many doulas take a very full client load with the intention of sending their backups routinely. You want to make sure that you not only love your doula, but their backup, too and your doula should have a plan in place for making sure you two get to meet before the birth.
Then, look for conversational ease; can you talk with this person? Can you imagine hanging out with this person for a good chunk of time, during a vulnerable time in your life? What vibe do they give off? How do they make you feel? If applicable, how do they make your partner feel?
6. What is one thing you want parents to know about working with doulas?
That we aren’t advocates! Instead, we work to educate and empower our families so that they can say they did it themselves, and own that power and triumph! Yes, we were there every step of the way, but we want our clients to know THEY had this power; we just helped them find it!
Get to Know Barb
1. How did you get started in birth work?
I got started in birth work while I was pregnant with my second child back in October 2012. I had a less than ideal birth experience a few years before and wanted something different this time around, so I was on the hunt for a doula. When I couldn’t find one that I loved, and realized that it was something I was already doing for my friends and family, I decided to train professionally as a birth and postpartum doula. I did the first thing I hadn’t entirely planned out in my entire life and jumped into training in January 2013.
2. What is your personal philosophy of doula care?
My philosophy is that there’s no right or wrong way to have a baby! There’s only the way that works best for you, your body and your baby. So, I work to educate and empower my clients so they have a good understanding of what’s happening in their body, the tools they will have available to them, and how to put it all together in a way that feels good to them.
3. What has been the most challenging and most rewarding parts of your work as a doula?
Rewarding parts are easy; they happen every day. In the texts that say I’m so glad we have you ladies on our side, the look in the new mother’s eyes when she searches out her partner moments after she birthed their baby, knowing that empowerment often begins at birth, we love seeing how birth transforms women and ultimately families. The old saying change on Earth begins at birth really is true.
4. How did birth | Fort Worth begin?
birth | Fort Worth began when I became burned out with being a solo-doula that was on-call for clients 24/7/365. I took a partner in June 2016, expanded to a trio in 2017 and haven’t looked back since! This shared call schedule allows for each doula to have one week completely off-call; it’s so necessary to stay fresh and keep the passion for birth work alive, and it makes for built-in backup. We never have to send a stranger to a client’s birth; they’ve met and gotten to know each of us before the big day comes!
5. What is your vision for the future of birth | Fort Worth?
I see birth | Fort Worth continuing to serve women and families in Fort Worth for years to come. We’ve just launched an online Your Best Birth Academy to make that award-winning curriculum available to as many folks as possible and we’ve just implemented a new doula mentorship program, where newer doulas can work for a living wage while earning valuable hands-on experience.
6. What’s one memorable moment or story from your career that has stuck with you?
There’s no way to pick just one; I’ve learned something from each and every birth that I’ve attended. Fast, slow, vaginal, VBAC, home, cesarean, hospital and everything in between… each birth has something to teach us if we know how to listen and look.
Did you know?
A huge thank you to Doula Barb for answering our questions about all things doula!