The Dawn of the Digital Doula Samantha Huggins cares for clients from afar.

By Samantha Huggins | Photo courtesy of Samantha Huggins

Navigating birth and the postpartum space means learning a whole new way of doing things and a new language. Had you ever heard of a footmuff before becoming pregnant? Go ahead and google it, I can totally wait. As pregnant women you’re suddenly expected to be body AND baby literate and automatically know exactly what to ask at the right moment and from the right people.  More than ever, we could use a person in our corner that knows how to navigate and prepare for all of this. Someone who knows what to look out for and is on your side on a more intimate level. Enter the doula. 

What makes hiring a doula an obvious choice is reflected in the satisfaction rates of the people who have worked with doulas ahead of having their babies and living that newborn baby and parent life.  People are happier overall when they feel heard, supported and they understand what is happening to and around them. Doulas can help you and your family to achieve this by directing you towards information about the processes so that you can better think through what pathway you would like to create to achieve your birth and early parenthood goals.  

We are being asked more than ever what it is we do exactly and how we can help virtually. My coy but honest answer is, it depends.  Each client we work with will have a unique set of needs that we will address with them specifically. But in general, doulas are the preppers of preppers.  We are your biggest advocate in advocating for yourselves and we will get all “gym coach” on you or love you up as much as you need. And thanks to all of the great technology and the internet, we can do it digitally through a series of virtual meetings, through our robust resource lists, shared docs, phone calls, text and chat.  

Doulas are your biggest advocate in advocating for yourselves and we will get all “gym coach” on you or love you up as much as you need.

Here is what a doula can do virtually:

We plan with you:  If you have figured anything out about being pregnant, it’s that it’s time to plan. Outcomes, homecomings, babies that bring nothing to the party but themselves. Since it’s new territory for you but also a path walked by many, there are tons of options to consider and a lot of stories being shared that are meant to help you identify your set of preferences.  Your doula can help you tease out what will be helpful and empowering for you, for your labor and the postpartum time. From selecting your medical team to choosing your bouncy chair, doulas have their finger on the pulse of your local birthing community and can point you in the right direction when it comes to who and what to connect with.

We know what you need and what you do not when it comes to your nursery, your pantry, your closet and under your bathroom sink.  Hint: your registry is based on YOUR needs too. Going through your registry and all of its elements with your doula can help you to prepare for your baby in a way that will save you on managing returns and help to focus your energy on the products you actually will use versus the ones that just sound useful and end up taking up space and collecting dust. We all have an extra deep love for our delivery people but this is not who you want to be spending the bulk of your time with when you’re figuring out infant feeding with less sleep than you’re used to.

We educate you:  If there was a time to deep dive on evidence based information and weed out the internet fluff, this is it. Dr. Google is awesome but when we use this wild and vast tool to find the yes or no answers, we are often left feeling more confused than when we started our search. Your doula can help you source information that is evidence based, ethically collected and easily digestible. And if it’s outside of our wheelhouse, we will refer you back to that totally awesome midwife or doctor we helped you to connect with. We can also help you find the right classes to deepen your understanding of birth and how to change a diaper and when your class is over, you can circle back to us if you have any questions that were not covered in the original material. Want to learn more about birth, cooking for your postpartum, what postpartum can look like??? Ask a doula. We love a good book and article list and have a ton of great recommendations that are written with the intent of empowering you to elevate your experiences. 

We listen to you:  Doulas have a great ear. The first step in learning how to advocate for yourself is finding someone who has the time and energy to deeply listen without attachment. This is a tenet of doula work. You will know it when it’s happening because you can say something to us, receive an unflinching ear and then dig a little deeper. Now you have a chance to sit in this deeper space within yourself where your desires lay in wait. By allowing those thoughts to surface and then digesting that new material and teasing it out with your partner or a close friend, will help you to determine your family’s core goals and convictions on a macro level. Then your doula can offer suggestions to help break those goals down into smaller realistic ones and so on until a plan or list of preferences is identified and confidence is built. This can take days, weeks, months even. But what better to do that build a strong foundation and steady yourself the best you can while you’re growing little baby toes?

We are non-medical support and witnesses:  We do not offer advice in any therapeutic way that could impact the outcome of your health, the health of the pregnancy or your infant virtually or otherwise. We do offer a way back to your center. This means we can remind you throughout your birthing and postpartum processes that you are strong, that no means no without discussion, that there are options and that there is a way out of this space that might not feel good right now. Some families are giving birth where we can be virtually present via Facetime, Zoom, Whats App or other mode. Others are not. When we work with families virtually, we will plan for you to tune into us whenever and however it feels right for you. Often little check ins along the way, even by text, feels great and is like having an ally in your pocket. In the postpartum, we pick up again with long virtual hangs, infant feeding support and little teachings on all of our favorite tips and tricks.  

Navigating big life changes is big work. With an open mind, a deep breath and a little creativity, you will see that your lines of support and your own voice are with you. Doulas are here to support you. We have been and will continue to be.  

See you on the interwebs!