The Unique Practice of the Birth Coach Doula
We wanted to define and throw more light on the differences between the way Birth Doulas and Birth coach Doulas practice. Our program integrates the strategies, tools and skills that life coaches are working with into the doula practice and into the doula training All Birth Doulas are trained to provide emotional, physical and informational support to the birthing mom and her partner. Doula students acquire a body of theoretical knowledge about the birth and basic knowledge about the postpartum period and breastfeeding. Most training programs also teach basic comfort measures and labor support tools. However, the short training that last a weekend does not integrate any coaching tools, and includes very little practice. There are a few historical reasons for this: The main reason is that doulas are perceived as ‘birth companions’ or ‘warm women who are mothering the mother,’ both are role definitions that imply a non-professional status. The second reason is the doula’s role, as it has been described and taught until now, is to be continuously present and provide support during during the birth itself. From a coaching perspective, this is too little too late. You can read more about it here.
At Birth Coach Method we believe that the key to achieving a healthy and active birth is prenatal coaching. Birth, by its essence, requires women to perform physically, emotionally and mentally in a way that is much different in character from their everyday life. If a woman wants to have a healthy vaginal birth these days, she will need to practice a new way of being and responding to birth strains. Practice is a core concept in coaching. Whether the coaching takes place in the world of sports or it is executive coaching, career coaching, relationship coaching, or parenting coaching, an area of practice is going to be assigned to the coaching client during the session wrap-up. Coaches understand that in order to replace an old habit with a new one, and this is true also for change in perspective or adapting a new concept, the client needs to practice. For this reason, birth coaches will conduct between 5 to 7 prenatal coaching sessions with their clients.
Here are some of the goals of these prenatal coaching sessions:
- To facilitate clarity about the client’s goals and wishes for her birth and the motivation behind them.
- To provide resources and information.
- To establish open communication in order to distinguish fears from reality and truth from myth about the birth.
- To assist the client in forming positive thinking and feelings about her nearing birth; ones that are aligned with her wishes.
- To provide on-going opportunities to practice labor support tools and comfort measures like breathing, visualization, affirmations and positions.
- To address personal circumstances and concerns of the client and her partner.
- To finalize the birth preference list and empower the client to initiate an open discussion with her medical care giver.
- To assist the mother in mapping the fetal position and practice different exercises that will encourage the ultimate position for the birth.
Think about it – coaching always comes before the performance! Birth, just like a marathon run or mount climbing, demands physical performance; responding to labor sensations with a new set of labor support tools and techniques, mental performance, and the acceptance of labor pains and strains and the ability to be with them. Therefore individual coaching sessions will prepare mothers prior to the performance, as they do in other fields that require performance.
During birth, Birth Coach doulas will continue to empower and guide the birthing moms, providing emotional support and words of encouragement. Birth Coach doulas will also provide physical support by using hands-on labor support tools and comfort measures. They will coach their clients and lead them during birth using the new understandings, context, and concepts that the client learned and practiced during the coaching sessions. Birth Coach doulas will tap on their clients’ motivation and will be able to use words and phrases that most resonate with her clients to help them overcome moments of crisis. After all, Birth Coach doulas has gained their leadership position and their clients trust during the prenatal coaching sessions.
Following the birth, Birth Coach doulas will have one or two postpartum coaching sessions with their clients to facilitate a healthy closure of the birth experience.