A fertility doula. Is there such a thing? A doula is a person who provides information, emotional and physical support through pregnancy, the birth and postpartum. Doulas are teachers, nurturers, a listening ear, a comforting hug, a hand to hold and a cheerleader. We love women through their pregnancy and birth experiences. But what if that relationship were to begin before conception? How would that benefit the family? How could that benefit the doula?
Below are my top ten reasons why doulas should also consider offering support pre-conception.
1. Conception can be hard. Doesn't it seem like something has to be hard when it comes to the journey into motherhood? Is it possible to have an easy conception, a glowing pregnancy, a gentle empowered birth and an easy going postpartum? It is much more realistic that some aspect of that journey is hard, and when it's hard, it can be really, really hard. The truth is, more than 1 in 10 women use medical assistance to become pregnant. Many, many more struggle on their own or try natural options and medical assistance doesn't guarantee a pregnancy either. 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Studies tell us that trying to conceive can be as stressful as cancer treatments. Unfortunately, there are few support options available for people who are trying to conceive and most couple's suffer through their journey's isolated and alone. People who are trying to conceive need more options for specialized, holistic (mind, body, spirit) support.
2. A doula relationship that starts pre-conception, can be even more intimate. Conception journeys may be a few months or a few years. My fertility clients seek out support at all different stages of their journeys. I'm not sure if there's anything quite like the relationship between a birth doula and her client's. Getting to know clients, who they are, what they value, what they desire and their history, it's my favourite part of being a doula. Fertility support work takes birth work to a whole new level when you've been with that woman for countless sessions through her fertility journey, supported her through miscarriages and then you are there when she is holding her real live baby and she cries and looks at you and says thank you.. There aren't words to describe the bond and the fulfillment. It's an honour and a blessing to walk beside them.
3. Education before pregnancy. Haven't you had clients learn about options that are no longer available to them because they didn't know some information sooner? "If only I knew..." When we are supporting clients during the conception process, we can start the pregnancy and birth education earlier. For example, in my community to get a midwife you have to contact them pretty much as soon as you pee on a stick. As a fertility support person, I'm sometimes the first person who knows when a client is pregnant, sometimes even before the partner. By this time my clients are already fairly well informed about the options that are available to them in our community and less likely to end up on a midwife waiting list. Not to mention, from an energetic perspective, it's very beneficial to start thinking about pregnancy and birth before one is pregnant. Women will often try not to think about those things because they are emotionally protecting themselves, but with a little encouragement and lots of emotional support, I can help them move through the hard stuff like, reading a book about birth.
4. Fertility clients often become birth clients. If you haven't already picked that up, almost all of my fertility clients choose to have me continue to support them through pregnancy and birth. It's often a natural progression. Many of my fertility/birth clients have explained that it wasn't a doula that they were interested in having, it was me. The relationship has been established and we have become a trusted source of information and emotional support. Birth doulas know that doulas are good for birth, we are good for moms and good for babies. If more birth doulas are offering fertility support, more women are going to have birth doulas and birth outcomes are going to continue to improve.
5. There are financial benef