The Ins and Outs of Naturopathic Doula Care
Doula means “woman who serves,” but it might as well mean “safe space.” Doulas offer never-ending support without judgment or shame. We will rest with you, watch over you, listen to you meticulously, remember for you, and remind you of your goals and wishes when you forget or feel compromised.
Doulas testify to the transformative moments when women become mothers and partners become parents & caregivers. We hold space for freedom in making changes, see you when you are compromised, and provide an advocate’s voice to keep you focused on your goals. Doulas are equipped to help you meet your fears head on and put them in their place.
Naturopathic Doulas differ from Conventional Doulas
A naturopathic doula is both a naturopathic doctor and a labour and delivery doula. ND Doulas differ from conventional doulas in that we bring naturopathic modalities into the birth room to aid with energy, mood, labour progression/augmentation, & pain management. These tools range and often include acupuncture/acupressure, homeopathy, massage techniques, hydrotherapy, & visualization.
Doulas differ from a loved one
Though generally considered a confidant, doulas have a degree of objectivity that is not privy to a loved one whose life is also actively transforming during the labour and delivery process. This tends to mean that your doula can bear the weight of seeing you labor & experiencing the degree of sensation and stimuli necessary to birth your baby, all the while being a constant strength (with a clear mind) for you to balance your resolve on.
Concern: Doulas replace fathers/birthing partners during labour & delivery.
In Truth: Doulas offer support to the partner, highlight their experience, teach them manual techniques to provide physical comfort to mom, free up their focus for emotional & sensual communication with mom.
Concern: Doulas attend ‘natural births’ which are generally ‘water births’ or ‘home births’ without pharmaceutical pain management or intervention.
In Truth: Birth is natural. No matter how a mother births her baby a doula can provide valuable support. Birthing mothers in hospital and at birth centres often need the advocacy a doula can provide the most. While moms birthing at home often need the pain management, encouragement, & brainstorming a doula can provide the most.
Concern: If you have a midwife, you don’t need a doula.
In Truth: Doulas differ from midwives in that midwives (like OBGYNs) prioritize the medical aspects of the birthing process (fetal heart rate monitors, pharmaceutical management, blood pressure, cervical dilation, effacement, etc). A doula’s priority is to meet each moment of the process (each contraction, each choice, each breath) with the laboring mother and address emotional, spiritual, ritual, informational, and transformational needs. Additionally, doulas do NOT “catch” (deliver) babies.
On a personal note…
I’m grateful to have had doulas at both my births because events rarely go off without a hitch! My first born came 4 weeks before her estimated due date (EDD) making her 1 week premature. Thankfully, at that point she had gestated long enough to avoid any serious complication. However, this did limit our birthing options as we could not deliver or labour at home, and my mother had yet to travel to Toronto from Atlanta. My doula proved to be a woman who had “been there” & helped me understand what to expect from one moment to the next. With my second born, the touch and consideration my doula provided helped sustain me from one contraction to the next.
When deciding if a doula is right to help you craft the satisfying birth experience you envision, evidence based studies may help you to come to an informed decision. Additionally, I encourage all moms to interview anyone they are considering inviting into their birth room. You are ultimately building a relationship, and that will prove the biggest asset to having a doula attend your birth.
Best in Health,
Dr. Mai Heath
ND, BA, Birth Doula
Medical Studies Tutor
Dr. Mai Heath practices in Cabbagetown, Toronto at Paths to Vitality. She received her medical training from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Mai believes the therapeutic relationship is where the healing occurs. Educating patients on how to steer their own health outcomes is a conviction she’s developed after many years of work in education. Mai focuses her energies on total patient care through the mental, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual healing process. Eagerly guiding people on their wellness journey through individualized care and education leads to empowered and inspired communities. Mai has a special interest in perinatal care, family care, and lifestyle counselling. You can email Mai here.