It makes sense that your gestational surrogate might be interested in working with a doula. After all, she’ll be the one going through the childbirth experience.
But, did you know that you, as an intended parent, can also benefit from a doula’s services?
Keep reading for more information on how a doula can help you, even if you’re not the one giving birth.
1. What Does a Doula Do?
A doula is not a nurse or midwife but rather a birth companion who has some level of training and experience in supporting women, babies and families through childbirth. That support is practical and physical, but it is frequently also emotional and mental.
Services that doulas provide include:
- Pre-birth planning, coaching and support
- Labor and delivery support (emotional and physical)
- Postpartum care for everyone involved, including the new baby
Whether they’re massaging a woman to ease contraction pains or explaining the next steps to family members, doulas offer a wide range of services, with different types of doulas specializing in certain roles.
2. How Does a Doula Help a Woman Who is Giving Birth?
You probably have some knowledge of doulas — how they can coach, comfort, encourage and guide pregnant women and babies during pregnancy, labor and delivery. These are some of their more common and popular services.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of a birth doula’s role:
Doulas and similar birth professionals may start working with a woman (and often her spouse) during her second or third trimester. During that time, the doula may help the woman create a birth plan, offer pain management strategies to practice and give general advice on how to prepare for what’s ahead — physically, practically and emotionally.
During labor and delivery, birth doulas provide support and encouragement.
After delivery, postpartum doulas continue to offer support to the woman and her family and make sure everyone is recovering well, physically and emotionally.
Gestational surrogates — like all women experiencing pregnancy, labor and birth — can benefit from these services, if they feel it would be beneficial for their journey.
3. So, How Can a Doula Help Someone Who Isn’t Giving Birth?
It’s obvious why a pregnant woman might be interested in a doula, but why would anyone else?
Doulas are birth coaches, not nurses, so their services extend beyond physically helping your surrogate. They’re there to encourage you emotionally, too. Becoming a parent, no matter how you do it, requires plenty of emotional support and practical advice.
Just as a doula works with a woman giving birth, doulas can work with intended parents in surrogacy situations (and other family members) to prepare for this journey. With surrogacy, intended parents can talk to a doula about:
- How you can help your gestational surrogate during her labor
- What happens if there are unexpected medical issues
- Who holds the baby and when, who cuts the cord and when, and other early-life decisions
- Feeding plans for your baby
- And more
Doulas emotionally and physically support gestational surrogates during birth, but they can also provide support to you as an intended parent. You will be going through a lot as you become a new parent; it can be helpful to have professional encouragement during an extremely emotional time.
After the baby is born, you can look to a postpartum doula for advice and continued support as you and your child settle in.
4. Where Can You Find a Doula, Birth Coach, or Similar Professional?
Your gestational surrogate’s doctor or preferred hospital may have a doula that they work with, so always ask for a referral.
You can also use these resources to find the type of birth assistance that you desire, whether that’s a birth doula, postpartum doula, or other professional:
- DONA International
- The International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA)
- CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association)
- National Black Doulas Association
Take your time when researching, interviewing and selecting a doula. This person will be your guide and source of support, so it’s important that you all feel comfortable with one another.
If you need help preparing for your surrogate’s upcoming due date, including deciding whether or not you’d like to work with a doula, you can always reach out to your American Surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for advice.