How Doulas Can Align the Vision, Beliefs and Actions of Expectant Moms (or How to Close the Gaps? )
Doulas often feel that they are accountable for their client’s positive and healthy birth experience. While this is somehow true, it certainly does not dismiss the couple’s efforts to achieve their desired birth experience. The presence of a doula at the birth should not by itself be perceived as a guarantee to a healthy and active childbirth. When couples choose not to engage in other types of labor support and preparation activities such as pregnancy physical activity, prenatal yoga, or childbirth education classes, there is a high chance that the doula will be the only one accountable for their positive birth experience. In this case, both parties risk a complicated relationship which might involve disappointment and lead to a non-satisfying birth experience. By providing prenatal coaching sessions the doula can help the couple to be better prepared and more accountable for their positive childbirth experience.
With prenatal coaching sessions, the doula can help the clients close some un-noticeable but harmful gaps; the gap between what they say they want and the actions they take toward achieving it, the one between the birth experience they wish for and their belief system or concept around childbirth, the gap between the two belief systems- the mother’s and her partner’s, and so on. Doulas can facilitate alignment; a position of agreement between all parts. Doulas can align the couple’s vision, their thoughts and belief system around childbirth, and their actions towards achieving their desired birth experience. Everything should be aligned in order to invite a healthy and empowering birth experience.
- Your client tells you that she wants to have a natural childbirth, but she does not sign up to any childbirth preparation class (a gap between your client’s wish and her steps towards achieving her goal).
- Your client wants unmedicated childbirth, but she does not look for a caregiver that shares her philosophy (a gap between your client’s goal and her understanding of how to get there).
- You client shares that she is very concerned, even scared of an episiotomy, yet when you refer her to resources about perineal massage, she does not find the time to read them (a gap between client’s fears and her motivation to reduce and resolve them, demonstrating a helpless behavior).
- You clients both share a vision of natural childbirth, every time that you open options and mention alternatives to the medical paradigm the partner chooses to blindly follow the medical advice (a gap between the clients’ goals and their belief system, as they perceive childbirth as a medical procedure).
- You client keeps telling you that it is her priority to do everything possible to avoid a cesarean operation, yet she “leaves herself open to the idea of epidural” (a gap between her goal to avoid a cesarean and her will power or motivation to do what it takes).
These gaps can be hard to notice if you have only two prenatal meetings with your birth client, as recommended by most doula training programs. These ‘holes’ cannot be resolved by taking a childbirth education class because these classes do not address the challenges or misconceptions of the individual, and the instructor has to deliver a lot of information and is not practicing careful listening and coaching. The only one who can address these is a doula who holds valuable prenatal coaching sessions with her clients.
When a doula learns to conduct prenatal coaching sessions and provides a series of them, both her and her client are inviting a better performance – the doula as a professional in the field of birth support, and the client as a birthing mom. Furthermore, the coaching language and techniques that were used prenatally, will make a real difference in your ability to coach your client in moments of tension or stress during her birth. As a coach you can resolve the advocacy dilemma and lead your client to make informed decisions while working with strong questions, and avoiding the risk of giving medical advice. With coaching strategies, you can also establish collaboration and teamwork in L&D, and lead the medical staff to meet your client’s needs. The Art of Coaching for Childbirth is a one day workshop, approved for DONA International continuing education contact hours. and designed to enrich doulas and other professionals in the field of birth support with coaching tools and strategies. I can assure you that it will take your practice to the next level of performance. Look for one in your area, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a workshop in your area.
To Healthy Births on Earth!
Neri Life Choma