Okay, so doulas are not actually unicorns, but doesn’t the job title itself sound pretty mythical?
SAY IT OUT LOUD: DOU-LA
And when you think about the fact that they support people who are literally creating and bringing life into this world, it’s hard to refute the apparent magic of it all! But let’s not get carried away: doulas are not anymore fantastical than the next person, they are just really good at what they do.
Doulas have tapped into a particular skillset that allows them to attune to others’ needs, and it is most often this ability that makes what doulas do seem so “magical.”
What do doulas do?
Doulas are essentially professional support persons. They have been trained specifically to support individuals during childbirth. Sometimes this support is in the form of information, as they answer the expectant parents’ questions about the process, or help put medical lingo into more easily understood language. Other times, this support is physical, as the doula helps the laboring person change positions or find some pain-relief with a firm squeeze of the hips.
Most notable, however, is the emotional support that doulas provide — which is where the art of attunement comes in…
What is attunement?
Often, when people think of how to relate to others, the word empathy comes to mind. But attunement goes beyond that: “It is a two-part process that begins with empathy—being sensitive to and identifying with the other person’s sensations, needs, or feelings; and includes the communication of that sensitivity to the other person” ( Erksine 2018 ).
Doulas easily slip into the laboring person’s rhythm, and this, combined with their additional knowledge about the birth process, allows doulas to anticipate the changes in mood and desires that the birthing person may experience. Basically, they are really good at reading the room, noticing the subtle details, and responding appropriately. At the same time, doulas are able to separate themselves from the experience, allowing them to provide truly nonjudgmental support — something parents seem to be hard-pressed to find in today’s society (perhaps the rarity of this type of support also contributes to the overall enchantment of the doula experience).
The truth about doulas
Doulas are not mystical creatures trotting around and making births a magical experience. We don’t have superpowers. We (sadly) aren’t unicorns. But we are pretty good at helping people find their own kind of magic, and nurturing that magic in really hard moments — and that can be (super)powerful in and of itself.
>> Curious to learn more about doula services? Take a look to see what I can offer as your doula!