“What is your doula style?” I get asked this a lot during my initial consultations. It’s kind of hard to answer. Every doula has a technique that they love to use and that works for their clients. For some, it’s their voice–helping clients visualize calming imagery, their cervix opening and baby coming down, etc. For others, it’s rebozo–sifting to help baby be in a good position for birth, providing counter-pressure with it, using it to aid in squatting, etc. For me, I’d say it’s following my intuition.
When I was volunteering at the University of Utah, the nurses asked if I would help their patient who was a single woman that didn’t speak much English. At first it was a little awkward because I was trying to connect with this woman by talking and asking questions, but we both got frustrated because we couldn’t really understand each other. I decided to try something else. I asked her if I could push on her knees during her next contraction (also known as counter-pressure or the knee press). She allowed me to do that and was so grateful to me after the contraction was over. I continued to provide her with water, someone by her side, and counter-pressure through the rest of her labor. Even though we couldn’t communicate verbally with each other, I knew when she needed counter-pressure, water, etc. I stayed over my 12 hour volunteer shift to help this woman. By the end of her labor we had deeply bonded even though we had hardly spoken and she allowed me to hold her beautiful baby boy while she had her first meal after giving birth.
Another time, I had a couple where the mother wanted extra support but the husband was hesitant to hire a doula. He didn’t want his job to be taken over and felt inadequate because she felt she needed additional support. During their birth, I guided him to be as involved as he wanted. I guided him so he could provide a lot of the counter-pressure and emotional support. I also suggested different positions he could help her into. Around the 10 hour mark of labor, he was tired, so I was doing most of the counter-pressure while he stayed by her head and helped her emotionally. I did counter-pressure for her for another 14 hours. This husband was a body builder, but I out counter-pressured him! I love providing the counter-pressure because the partner can stay by mom’s head and be the first person she sees when she opens her eyes and last before she closes them.
During another birth, I had a client whose baby was posterior. Yes, babies can be born posterior, but it can make labor take longer and be more uncomfortable. This is why during our prenatal visits we go over rebozo, postural exercises, pregnancy exercises, and other methods that encourage baby to get into a good position and stay there. During her labor, the midwife and I each took turns doing sifting to help get baby to rotate. I love making good relationships with providers so that we can work as a team without any bad energy or tension in the birth room. I also used counter-pressure, essential oils to help with her birthing waves, hypnosis scripts, light touch massage, etc. This client told me that it was like I was reading her mind. Any time she was thirsty, I was there with water; any time she needed to use the restroom, I was asking her if she needed a bathroom break.
Like I said before, my “doula style” is to follow my intuition to see what my individual client needs to help them have a peaceful birth day.