Hypnobirth Tip #6: Do I need a Doula?

by Kerry Tuschhoff, HCHI, CHt

I make it very clear to my students that it is *wonderful* to have a doula as an advocate for you in the hospital, and to be a nurturing presence who knows so many ways to help labor progress if needed, etc., that they *must* be completely familiar with the philosophy, techniques, cue words, etc of your birth hypnosis program. The usual doula training provides the laboring women with much more physical activity to stay comfortable, while using hypnosis entails much more "going inside" and specific cues that have been programmed subconsciously. Some hypno-moms can indeed use upright positions, birth balls and even walk if they want to, but this will be for progress if needed or descent and positioning of the baby, and not to maintain comfort. Unless a doula is familiar with all of this, she may not help the woman in the ways she truly needs help to give birth using hypnosis.

I have actually trained a group of traditionally trained doulas in my area to be hypno-doulas, so that hypnomoms will have labor assistants who know exactly how to attend a birthing with hypnosis, and they are all terrific. They marvel at the beautiful births they see, and I'm so happy to have them for my students, as I simply cannot attend all of their births. You may want to ask your instructor if they know of any hypno-trained doulas in your area. You can find out more about Doulas of North America at their website.

Certainly a regular doula can be effective, they just need to be educated about hypnosis for birth and be "willing" to labor assist a different way. As all laboring women have different needs, flexibility is the mark of a good doula anyway!

Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Doula

  1. Where were you trained and how long have you been a labor assistant?
  2. How many births have you attended as a doula?
  3. Do you have any experience or knowledge of using hypnosis for childbirth and if so, what?
  4. Would you be willing to learn hypno-birth techniques and read materials that will allow you to help me in labor?
  5. Describe you role in my birthing. What exactly do you do?
  6. How many times will I see you before the birth?
  7. When will you come to attend me in labor?
  8. What other services do you offer? (Breastfeeding support, postpartum for mom and dad, new baby care, etc.)

More specific questions

  • Tell me about your experience with birth, personally and in your practice.
  • What is your philosophy about childbirth and supporting women and their partners through labor?
  • What do you think is the most important part of your job?
  • May we meet with you to discuss our labor and birth plans and the role you will play in supporting me (us) through childbirth?
  • Are there any limits to your availability?
  • Do you have a back-up, for times when you are not available and may we meet with her?
  • What care providers have you worked with?
  • In what hospitals have you attended births?
  • May we call you with questions or concerns before and after the birth?
  • When do you try to join women in labor? Do you come to our home or meet us at the hospital?
  • Do you meet with me (us) after the birth to review the labor and answer questions?
  • What is your fee, and what does it include?
  • Are there two of your past clients whom I may call?

What a good doula might provide

  • Identification of your priorities for the birth
  • Birth preparation planning and discussion of common practices and procedures
  • Up to two prenatal visits
  • Prenatal meeting with your obstetrical care provider if desired
  • Phone consultations as necessary
  • 24 hour on-call beginning two weeks prior to your due date
  • Continuous emotional and physical support during active labor and birth throughout labor at home and at the hospital or birth center
  • Breastfeeding assistance immediately following the birth
  • Postpartum visit
  • Ongoing postpartum/breastfeeding support as needed and extensive referral services

Doulas can be quite helpful with a hypno-birth, but they simply must be trained to do the right things, such as:

  1. Learn and practice the techniques and hypno-cues ahead of time with the couple, in a few Birth Rehearsals.
  2. Be a liaison for the couple with hospital staff, explaining that they need darkness, solitude and quiet, keeping distraction to a minimum, etc.
  3. Learn and use hypnotic deepening techniques with the hypno-mom, for use in Transformation stage (transition).
  4. Read scripts and do Fear Release, Light Touch Massage, and hypno-cues in labor, (trading off with the hypno-dad when he is tired, but not replacing him).
  5. Get the hypno-mom up to change positions or go to the bathroom immediately after a surge is over, then help her back into hypnosis when she gets where she is going as quickly as possible.
  6. Be aware that positional changes and upright positions are mainly used for descent and positioning of the baby, and not for comfort, in hypno-birthing. When using hypnosis for childbirth, physical comfort comes from going deeper inside the inner mind and relaxing the birthing muscles very deeply.

Disclaimer: Hypnobabies Network, and Kerry Tuschhoff assume no responsibility or liability for the outcome of any pregnancy, labor, or birth. The content of the above information is in no way to be represented as medical advice, nor as a prescription for medical procedure. As always, you should seek the advice of a medical doctor or midwife to answer any health-related or pregnancy-related issues surrounding your pregnancy, labor and delivery, or before starting any new pregnancy-related program.

More Hypno-Birth tips...
Tip #1: Getting Started
Tip #2: Your Bubble of Peace
Tip #3: Why Create a Birth Plan?
Tip #4: A Sample Birth Plan
Tip #5: Laboring at Home
Tip #6: Do I need a Doula?
Tip #7: What to do in Early Labor
Tip #8: Getting everything You Want
Tip #9: Birthing Choices

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