There’s literally a doula for everything, and thank goodess for it!
Your first question might be, “what exactly is a ‘doula’? Well, the short answer, because each doula can really have their own answer, is that a doula is someone who provides both emotional and physical support, information and resources, as well as guidance through different life altering moments many of us consider very regular life occurrences.
Now that we know what a doula is, let’s set the scene!
So, you’re looking to get pregnant, and maybe you’re feeling too much pressure to share that with family or friends, but you’re not down to go it alone… and honestly you shouldn’t have to!
So what are your options? Well, rather than talking to your doctor and getting some cold, white-jacket, general conception information, you do have another pretty sweet option. While there are warm and supportive doctors out there (I have had the same amazingly hilarious family doc since I was three years old!), for some serious long-term support, knowledge, and comfort, there’s also a fertility doula!
You’re probably thinking, isn’t a doula for after I know I’m pregnant? Nope! There’s actually a doula for every step of your fertility (or infertility) journey. From pre-conception, abortion, conception, birth and postpartum, there is a doula for all of these intense and often times emotional experiences. And if you find a doula that does it all, they usually refer to themselves as a full-spectrum doula. But some doulas choose to focus on only one of these aspects as well.
These days, there is a trend towards more doulas training as full-spectrum doulas because why the heck not! Being able to help someone through any stage of fertility is super helpful and necessary. Understanding each stage of the process is also very practical to a doula’s job, no matter where they choose to keep their focus.
I am not only a full spectrum doula but, as a person trying to conceive myself, (let me tell you) even I am stressed. Even with all the conception knowledge in my head and at my fingertips and the fact that I have no known hardships with conceiving, it can still be a stressful experience for a variety of reasons.
As a doula I want to fight the stigma, so I decided to tell my family and close friends, but since none of them are actively trying to conceive, they’re not totally in my headspace. And when they do ask about it, I feel more stressed!
So who needs a fertility doula?
Anyone! Everyone! Highly recommended for those experiencing hardships with conceiving or undergoing any form of fertility treatments (ie. IVF, IUI etc.).
What does a conception doula do?
Let’s start off by highlighting that each doula has their own offerings and check-ins can look different for everyone!
Email/text support, to phone support and even in-person meetings. Your doula is usually right by her phone or computer, and responds quickly to your concerns or q’s, so definitely don’t ever hesitate to reach out! The number one misconception after someone hires a doula, is that they are “annoying or bothering their doula,” when in reality your doula loves being in communication with you to ensure you feel as supported as possible every step of the way!
Attend clinic meetings with you. Obviously during this global pandemic, you are hard pressed to have your partner in the clinic for an appointment, but you can get creative with this one. Have your doula know exactly when you will be at your appointments so she can make sure you feel good and ready, and send you all her loving energy. Your doula can sit on the phone or FaceTime with you right before you head in, and connect back right after you get home to answer any follow up q’s and calm your nerves.
Help you through emotional and confusing situations. Fertility can be a super touchy topic fuelled by feelings of all kinds. Your doula is someone who will never shy away from the uncomfortable conversations or make you feel insecure or unsupported about the stage your body may be at or how it is reacting to certain treatments. They will make sure you have all the facts, feel supported regardless of outcomes, and keep you moving forward with positivity!
Lend you many resources and referrals to different health care providers. Depending on your doula, they may offer things like fertility yoga or meditation sessions, but regardless most doulas are pretty close to the holistic or other care providers in your area and can quickly get you referred out to other doctors and fertility experts you want to get in touch with throughout your fertility journey. Think acupuncture, massage therapy, support groups, other doulas, and the list goes on!
Supporting your partner. You heard right, if there is a partner in the picture, your doula wants to be there for them as well! Whether it’s answering the questions they don't want to stress you with, or getting some serious doubts/fears off their backs as well, the doula wants to support your whole family unit through this.
Where do I find a fertility doula?
Well, there's a few places you can look… Just typing “fertility doula + your area” can lead you to a lot of good leads. I would start by looking through some inclusive doula training directories. These are spaces where doula training collectives support their trained doulas by showcasing them on their websites. Other places to look are websites such as Doulamatch.net and your local midwifery offices. They are usually lined with doula business cards of all sorts!
How do I choose a fertility doula?
If you read through a doula training and resonate with the collective mission, there’s a good chance you may connect with a doula that has completed that training! There may not be any fertility doulas in your area, but don’t be afraid to connect with one that isn’t necessarily local. These days we are doing everything online anyways! Feel free to reach out to two to three different doulas and have an initial consult before settling on one. You might ask about:
past client references
what their services look like
birth and postpartum support if you want to continue with the same doula moving forward!
The moral of the story? Doulas are amazing and helpful for every step of your pregnancy (or abortion) journey. Having a positive, knowledgeable, and supportive doula to guide you through any part of your conception journey can truly make all the difference!