Updated: Apr 22, 2019
So this past week I have gone on a mission to find articles related to how doulas support the client's mother (which will be referred to as mother for this blog) during the birthing time. I have asked for help with this search on multiple doula pages, and all answers come back empty.
Let me start by saying, if the mother has been invited to join in the birth then she is needed and desired. Nobody can replace her and as a doula, I certainly wouldn't want to. This does not mean that having mother at the birth is always a good thing, in fact mother isn't usually invited. So if you are a mother and you are invited into this sacred space, value it because you are one of the rare.
Here's some things that a mother can do, that I cannot. First a mother knows how to nurture their child. Sometimes all a laboring woman wants is to be held or for their hair to be stroked. Can I do that? Absolutely! But when it comes from mother, there is just NO comparison. Mother has been there from the beginning of her life and mother's arms are warm and welcoming. Second, a mother can encourage and seek out the frustrations for her daughter in a way that the partner and myself cannot. When the relationship between mother and daughter are so strong, words are much more powerful. I have seen a mother caress her daughter's face and whisper words of encouragement in her ear, and suddenly the strength that the laboring mom needs have been supplied by just her mother's voice!
So here are a couple of reasons why a doula is still needed, even though the mother is part of the support! Mothers, as expected, are emotionally invested. They sometimes cannot see past the fact that their daughter is uncomfortable and it can hinder their support. Mother wants to be strong for her daughter, but her support is clouded by worry. The doula can reassure the mother that the process is completely normal and explain why, causing the mother to be grounded so she can once again be what her daughter needs. Additionally, mother isn't usually medically knowledgeable. Even though a doula does nothing medical, my medical knowledge, training, continuous learning, and experience can be the translation that the entire birth team needs. I can provide explanations and evidence based research in a moment's time. This will help mother to be the emotional support that her daughter needs, instead of having to figure out all the answers and being burdened with "which answer" is correct in her google search!
This is far from an exhaustive list to why a mother and a doula are both essential to the birth team. I have served several births where mother attended and was extremely grateful that she was able to fulfill the "mother" role, instead of concentrating on being the knowledge and skill.
Let me remind you, that having mother in the birthing time is such an honor. If you have been requested to attend your daughter's birth, don't allow her choices of who else she wants on her birth team to be a reason for resentment or cause you to fear your own responsibility to her. You are valuable and loved, and the doula will express that too!