Doulas and Partners

A partner’s participation during labor is both irreplaceable and indispensable; nothing can replace that emotional connection between the couple. Partners are also navigating their own transition into parenthood during childbirth and may need support for themselves during this time. To help support both people on their individual and connected  journies, a doula’s work enhances this experience for the couple by providing neutral information and support to both people.

A partner is there for the laboring mother every step of the way helping her with physical and emotional support and “a doula compliments and reinforces that unique partner support,” says Kelley Burke, owner and doula at Portland Natural Birth.

The doula’s training, experience, tools, and skills gives partners permission to experience the labor and birth without feeling like they are fully responsible for everything that happens once labor begins. “As a doula I wear many hats during the time I’m working with a family. I learn the family’s communication style and see where there are places I’m needed to support both people,” continues Kelley.

It is common for partners to be concerned that hiring a doula might force them out of the picture or like they won’t be needed as much. Really, a doula is trained to work in collaboration with partners and enhance their experience; childbirth isn’t about a doula, it’s always focused on the entire family. A doula’s presence will compliment the partner’s ability to be present and attentive to the laboring mother.  


Pillars of Doula Support

The role of a doula is to provide continuous labor support at home, in the hospital, birth center, or  in the operating room. A doula facilitates and promotes informed choice and helps the birthing parent and family advocate for their needs in any birth setting.

At Portland Natural Birth, our doulas offer physical support through:

~ Massage and Comfort Care
Our doulas is a licensed massage therapist and can provide a variety of bodywork techniques to promote relaxation in early labor, soothe areas of tension during active labor, and promote pelvic/baby alignment so your birth has the best possible chance of progressing smoothly.  Massage during labor can relax the birthing body and release pelvic ligaments, making for a faster and less painful birth.

~  Water therapy
Doulas understand when to utilize certain tools like a warm shower or tub soak to provide the pain relief and rest a laboring parent needs from contractions.

~ Calming Effect
Doulas work with the entire family to understand their communication styles and needs during the birth. This familiarity not only has a calming effect on everyone in the room, it also allows the doula to make sure a mother’s laboring environment is supporting her birth.

At Portland Natural Birth, our doulas offer emotional support through:

~ Continuous presence
Our doulas support you at home, helping you decide when to leave for the hospital, and throughout your labor in the hospital or birth center.

~ Emotional clarity
Labor can be a tiring and emotionally-draining event for birthing parent and family. Doulas provide emotional clarity, allowing the family the space they need to process their experience, and trained know-how to help a family through the emotional hard spots of labor.

~ Reassurance
Nothing may be more valuable than the reassurance a doula can offer based on decades of attending births.  Our doula has attended over 500 births as both a midwife and doula.  Bridging clinical knowledge and comfort care skills is her specialty.   

At Portland Natural Birth, our doulas offer informational support through:

~ Evidence-based information
Our doulas are current on the latest information about pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and postpartum. Most importantly, we are trained in how to break the academic studies down into sizable and understandable chunks of information, allowing you to make informed decisions.

~ Labor techniques
Doulas will help with various labor positions to speed or slow down labor and ways to breath through the contractions and while pushing.  

~Medical procedures
Doulas are able to distill and explain medical procedures so families understand what will happen beforehand.

My Commitment to you as your Doula:

As your doula, I will use my skills and knowledge of anatomy, the birth process, bodywork and my training as a midwife to guide and inform you. We will work together to support pelvic alignment and baby positioning so your birth has the best opportunity of progressing smoothly while also honoring your emotional journey both individually and as well as a family unit. I will provide perspective and guidance to you and your partner, make suggestions to support labor progress, assist with relaxation, positioning and bodywork techniques to aid your comfort. As your doula, I am working for you, not your care provider, hospital or birth center.  My only agenda is for you have the information you need to make informed decisions and the support you deserve to give you the strength to get through it.  

Preparing for the Holidays – Doula Advice

If you’re due anytime during the holiday season (even as early as November), it will be so much less stressful if you’re able to check things off your holiday to-do list early. Here’s a list to help you manage your time while waiting to meet your baby.

Hire a Doula
Your doula will help ease you into the reality of having a baby during the holidays. She’ll help you activate your postpartum support network now, before baby, so that everyone is ready to help as soon as your baby is born. And yes, doulas work during the holidays!

Be Flexible
Your baby will change everything; your schedule, getting out the door, driving around, your energy! The more you’re able to do now (even if baby is due way before the new year), the more you’ll be able to let go of what can’t get done.

Shop Online
As a local Portland business we love supporting other small establishments. As a well-mama-well-baby business we know that you can’t do it all (nor should you). If you’re tired, stressed from driving, and want to stay in your cozy maternity pants all day long, then shop online. And not just for presents, think about grocery shopping online and meal delivery services. Bonus – most doulas visit you in your home rather than an office setting.

Be a Guest
If you usually host holiday gatherings, let everyone know that you’ll be skipping this year. See what family members or friends wants to host the big dinners, cookie exchanges, and holiday festivities.

Minimize Decorations
Go easy and light this year. It may be fun to decorate your home in your traditional way, but keep in mind that you’ll also have to take down those decorations and then store them, all while caring for a new baby. It’s a lot of work.  

Prepare for your Birth
Pack a hospital bag, write down important numbers, install the car seat. Spend cozy hours nesting, cleaning, and preparing for your baby. Your doula can help you with suggestions and resources for welcoming baby.

Doulas love telling their clients how important it is to rest. And we understand that the bustle of the holiday season makes it difficult to do so. But try. Labor is hard work. Birth is hard work. Rest well.

Consider asking for gift certificates of self care and support for YOU this season.  If your needs are met for maternity and baby things, let your loved ones know to consider gifts of helpful, healing experiences. Massage, pelvic floor care, postpartum doula support, acupuncture, house cleaning, meal prep delivery can all support your need for self-care.