Pronounced Do-La, the doula is the one you can call during your pregnancy to talk to about what happened at your Dr. visit that day. The doula will come to your house to talk about things you can do to get ready for birth. She will share with you breathing techniques, positions for labor, and more! The doula will keep her phone on while she sleeps so if you go into labor in the middle of the night, she can be there to help you any time. The doula will have magic hands that can ease the tensions away. The doula will have tools and techniques available to provide you with comfort during labor. She will go to the hospital with you and remain near you for the duration. She will help you process all that is going on during labor...all the beeps of the machines, the wires and straps, the options available, birth balls and showers and pitocin and epidurals and what you can do to manage all the sensations in your body!!! (few! *wipes brow*)
The doula will help make sure both of you stay hydrated. She will provide warm blankets if mom gets the shakes, ice chips when she needs something to crunch on or a wet cloth when she is sweating from working so hard. The doula will gently suggest things the partner can do to help if he/she is feeling a little left out or just has no idea what to do! And when the staff start making recommendations that you just aren't sure you understand, the doula will help you find ways to get the clarity you need so informed decisions are driving your birthing experience!
When your baby is born, the doula will stay with you for a while to help take in all that just happened. She will get you both snacks (or a meal!) and maybe take photos for you. She might help ensure you get the important skin to skin time with your baby and help with breastfeeding in that first hour or so.
After your family is all snug in your home, the doula will return again to visit with you to answer questions that may arise about your baby, infant feeding, newborn behaviour, and postpartum recovery.
How awesome does all that sound?!?! The dude at the rest stop had no idea the awesomeness.
Wikipedia says "The medulla oblongata (or medulla) is the part of the brainstem that is situated between the pons and the spinal cord. The medulla contains the cardiac, respiratory, vomiting and vasomotor centers and therefore deals with the autonomic(involuntary) functions of breathing, heart rate and blood pressure."
The doula isn't in charge of anything like the medulla oblongata is but she does provide support for your heart rate, respiration and blood pressure during this VERY exciting time in your life simply by providing peace of mind and calming presence (and maybe using some of her awesome doula skills). She provides support to you AND your partner, too! If you would like to learn more about hiring a doula to support you during your pregnancy and labor, to help with breathing techniques, relaxation, active pain management, evidence based resources and more, please contact me for more information!