Interview with a Doula

Margaret Holman photo

Margaret Holman of Bliss Doula.

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Margaret Holman of Bliss Doula.  I already knew a lot about doula’s and what they do, but surprisingly, I learned even more.  Margaret is warm and inviting, welcoming any and all questions I had with professionalism and experience.  It made me wish that I had met her a few years ago, before giving birth to my own daughter, so that she could have been my doula!  I know there are many people out there who don’t know what exactly a doula does, and that’s why I wanted to share this experience with you.  This is what we talked about.

Q.           WHAT IS A DOULA?

A.            A doula is someone, usually a woman, who supports women in the prenatal, birth and postpartum periods.  Someone who will discuss options with a woman, including her birth wishes.  A doula has a range of resources she can refer to for mutual support for women and their families.

Q.           YOU USE THE WORDS ‘USUALLY A WOMAN’, DOES THIS MEAN MEN CAN BE DOULA’S TOO?

A.            Yes, they can.  The first male doula that I am aware of was trained in the U.K. last year.

Q.           WHY IS A DOULA BENEFICIAL?

A.            A doula offers continuity.  She offers comfort measures, knowledge and should have no agenda.  She is neutral.  There are statistics which show having a doula at your birth will reduce the need for intervention, caesarean rate and less need for epidurals.  Having a doula for birth or postpartum support influences how a woman perceives her birth experience and the transition into motherhood.

Q.           WHAT CAN A DOULA PROVIDE THAT MY MIDWIFE OR DOCTOR CAN’T?

A.            A doctor and midwife will take care of the medical side of things.  They will do all the necessary checks and advise of progress and care.  A doula will be there continually.  She will give your partner a break and take some of the pressure off.  She will be there to remind the mother to eat and drink.  Sometimes women forget these things in all the excitement.

Q.           IF I KNOW THAT I WANT AN EPIDURAL, WILL YOU TRY TO SWAY MY DECISION?

A.            A doula is there to support women with their wishes.  Women who choose an epidural still need support.  They should always ask their doula first about their birth philosophy and be sure that they meet their own.  They will have visits before the birth to build a relationship.  Doula’s should not bring their own birth/postpartum agenda but work with women towards their own birth plan.

Q.           HOW OFTEN DO YOU VISIT YOUR CLIENTS BEFORE AND AFTER BIRTH?

A.            This is flexible.  Most doula’s offer 2 prenatal sessions.  They are on call 24/7 from 38 weeks until birth and make two follow-up visits.  A postpartum doula will usually have one visit before the baby arrives to discuss setting up, any questions the client may have and preparation.  She will provide breastfeeding support in the hospital when the baby arrives.  More hours are spent in the beginning that lessens as the mother gains confidence in her role as a parent.  Postpartum doula’s generally support women in the 4th trimester, from birth to 3 months.

Q.           HOW OFTEN DOES A POSTPARTUM DOULA VISIT DURING THIS TIME IN THE 4TH TRIMESTER?

A.            This is also flexible.  Visits are a minimum 3 hours.

Q.           WHAT EXACTLY WILL YOU DO DURING A POSTPARTUM VISIT?  DO YOU WEIGH AND MEASURE THE BABY?

A.            No, nothing medical.  A postpartum doula is there to nurture the family.  She can provide light meal preparation, breastfeeding support, and baby development.  She is there to help mom and dad get some rest.  She is there for family support with knowledge, resources and no personal agenda.  Studies have shown that having a postpartum doula reduces the risk of postpartum depression.

Q.           CAN YOU OFFER THE SAME SERVICES AS A LACTATION CONSULTANT?

A.            No, we are not lactation consultants, but we do have breastfeeding training, knowledge and resources.

Q.           DO YOU BELONG TO AN ORGANIZATION?

A.            Yes, I belong to DONA International, Nurturing Birth and Doula C.A.R.E.

Q.           WHERE DID YOU ACQUIRE YOUR TRAINING?

A.            From DONA International and Nurturing Birth.

Q.           ARE YOU CERTIFIED?

A.            Yes, I am a certified postpartum doula with Nurturing Birth and working towards birth certification with DONA.

Q.           WHEN WILL YOU BE BIRTH CERTIFIED WITH DONA?

A.            I will submit my paperwork this summer and generally we hear after three months; so hopefully this fall.

Q.           DO THE CHILD BIRTHS YOU ATTEND GENERALLY HAPPEN AT HOME OR IN A HOSPITAL?

A.            On average, the births I have attended have been in a hospital with an obstetrician.  It’s important to note there is a doula for every woman. I have also worked with Midwives.

Q.           WHAT MEASURES DO YOU TAKE TO ENSURE YOU ARE AVAILABLE FOR A BIRTH?

A.            Every woman should ask their doula who their backup is and if they can meet them.  If I know I am on call I will make sure I am available.  However, for sickness and family crisis, a backup doula will be available.  They will know the client’s expectations and birth wishes.  The backup doula will also share the same birth philosophy.

Q.           WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING OR MEMORABLE BIRTHING EXPERIENCE YOU HAVE SHARED WITH A CLIENT?

A.            Unfortunately, I cannot share this for confidentiality reasons.

Q.           DO YOU HAVE A NICHE OR A SPECIALTY?

A.            I teach prenatal classes at Anna Belanger & Associates with Misty Pratt.  I work with ‘Gentle Sleep’ settling.  This helps parents understand what to expect sleep wise.

Q.           WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT YOU HAVE HELPED YOUR CLIENTS WITH?

A.            Every family is different and will have different family dynamics.  The most challenging aspect is being adaptable to each family and their needs.

Q.           WHAT WERE YOUR REASONS FOR BECOMING A POSTPARTUM DOULA?

A.            I realized the need for postpartum care after having my own children.  I worked as a Registered Nurse in the UK and an Early Years Educator and so have supported families in many roles.  Being a Doula is a passion of mine and it is a privilege to be part of a family’s journey into parenthood.

 

I would like to thank Margaret for meeting with me and sharing this information with you.  If you would like to contact Margaret, please visit her website at www.blissdoula.com.

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