Originally posted May 2011:
“Every aspect of support must start with the idea of reducing stress – mental, emotional, and physical. The goal is to enhance the woman’s ability to relax.”
- The Doula Book
The book goes on to explain the effect of fear and stress on hormones and labor progress. Very interesting!
- Through your words, body language and touch reassure her in your confidence that she can cope.
- Help her cope with RIGHT NOW, don’t let her get caught up thinking about how fast or slow things are going or the next contraction. Just get through THIS one.
- Have her close her eyes and encourage her (in whatever way she is comfortable) to visualizing what is happening inside her body.
- Establish eye and physical contact when she seems to be looking overwhelmed. Be firm and direct if needed, use massage, touch, stroking, and gentle reminders to relax that body part as you touch it.
- Between contractions ask her what helped or did not help. Keep communication simple and watch for nonverbal cues.
- When mom speaks of the pain, speak positively about how hard her body is working, how strong she is, and how productive her body is being through the pain.
- Be aware of the situation surrounding the mother and how it may be impacting her (noise, idle chatter, bright lights, etc.) Encourage her to speak up about her wishes or if she cannot, help her husband speak up for her.
- If YOU are feeling anxious for any reason then this will impact her. If necessary, excuse yourself for a moment to go calm yourself and come back.
- Be a peaceful influence.
- Encourage her to change positions every 30 to 60 minutes, drink something and empty her bladder every hour.
- During intense contractions moms may want to maintain eye contact with dad or doula OR she may close her eyes and turn inward. If she seems to be struggling you may need to encourage her to open her eyes.
- Have ways to help protect her privacy, such as an extra sheet, robe, second gown, draw the curtain, ask visitors to wait.
- Ask her who is allowed in and who she would like to keep out, be the bouncer if necessary.
- Just like a child is often comfortable expressing their fears and crankiness only to their mother, as the doula you may be the only person she can speak freely to. Don’t take it personally! It’s a sign of trust and comfort.