As a doula, you will be asked about everything pregnancy. Here is a quick list of pregnancy tips to help your clients be truly prepared for birth and parenting. We don’t know what we don’t know. So, as a doula, you can help prepare your clients for all things beyond the registry.
Most importantly, however, you can help them prepare without adding to their stress load. The inner dialogue during pregnancy can feel like a never-ending task list. As a doula, you can provide these tips in low stress way.
9 Pregnancy Tips
I wish I could say I made fully informed decisions with my first pregnancy. In reality, I happened to choose an amazing midwife. I was in the space of doing whatever the provider recommended. Again, fortunately she was a wonderful midwife so doing everything led to a positive experience.
As I ventured into birth work, I learned that this is rarely the case for first time birthing parents. Many follow the standard recommendations set forth by providers which are not always comprehensive in preparing for a positive pregnancy, birth and start to parenthood.
As a birth worker, you may find these helpful for clients:
Encourage Clients to Make Informed Provider Choice
It is common for pregnant people to continue care with a previous OB/GYN they saw for birth control and well woman care. They might choose a provider based on proximity to their work for appointments or whomever their friends recommended.
These are not inherently bad options. However, depending on the type of birth they are planning for, they might find another provider helpful.
Encourage your clients to think about their birth goals. Then, encourage them to ask their OB or midwife about these goals. If they do not feel their provider is going to be supportive in these goals, looking into other options might be helpful.
Pregnancy Tip – Learn About Nutrition
It is always beneficial to learn about nutrition. However, during pregnancy, nutrition has the power to improve birth outcomes. Certain dietary choices can aid in managing pregnancy hypertension and gestational diabetes.
In some cases, we cannot prevent hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, nor can we stop gestational diabetes. However, dietary choices can be a massive part of managing these conditions and improving birth outcomes.
Aside from pregnancy complications, good prenatal nutrition can help pregnant people maintain overall wellness. Regardless of how one eats during pregnancy, the baby is often getting what it needs. However, the pregnant person is at risk for losing iron, calcium, etc., from their body if they are not consuming enough.
Encourage your clients to reach out to a registered dietician if they have GD or hypertensive disorders. As a doula, you cannot prescribe a specific diet. However, you can share information about healthy food options during pregnancy including:
- Using herbs and spices for flavor and limiting excessive sodium
- Reading labels
- Choosing protein over empty carbs
- Choosing whole grains over processed white grains
- Pairing fruit and other sugars with protein to help balance blood sugar
- Small frequent meals versus large meals
- Eating whole foods at home more often than takeout
- Making lower sodium choices at restaurants and takeout
- Choosing whole foods and eating the rainbow
Encourage Clients to Practice Self-Care and Relaxation
As a doula, you know the importance of rest and relaxation during pregnancy. However, you also know how difficult it can be to incorporate in a society that encourages always being “productive” and busy.
Remind clients about the importance of mental wellness during pregnancy for themselves and their babies. You can encourage them to try things like guided relaxation, delegating tasks where possible, learning to say “no” to overcommitting themselves, and more.
Sometimes we feel like we need permission to care for ourselves. While this is not at all necessary, we sometimes feel like we need it. Give your clients permission to put themselves first and practice true self care.
Talk to Clients About Using Both Birth and Postpartum Support
Clients and potential clients are not always aware of the benefits of birth and postpartum doula support. Taking time to explain all you can do is a wonderful way
to help clients prepare for birth and parenting.
We do not know what we do not know, and thus many new pregnant parents are unaware of all the support available to them.
Pregnancy Tip – Comprehensive Childbirth Classes
Doulas provide invaluable pregnancy support and birth preparation. However, in the context of a couple prenatal visits, it is not possible to provide full comprehensive childbirth education.
Encouraging clients to take your childbirth class, if you teach classes, or another private class (not including the hospital offered classes) can help them be fully prepared for birth. As a doula, it will also make it easier for you to provide true birth doula support as you will not be tasked with having to explain extra things before, during and after the birth experience.
Remind Clients to Get and Keep Moving
We do not need to encourage clients to run a marathon or train to be a competitive lifter. However, studies show remaining active during pregnancy can improve birth outcomes and overall health.
In the absence of high-risk pregnancy contradictions, encourage clients to walk, continue normal exercise if their providers give them the okay, and to consider things such as prenatal yoga and Pilates.
Exercise can also make their postpartum recovery easier.
Vitamin D and Sunshine!
Getting adequate vitamin D is beneficial any time, but especially during and after pregnancy. It is necessary for immune support. However, vitamin D is found to improve mental health.
Pregnancy and the postpartum periods are times of stress for many. Setting clients up for helpful things which can reduce the risk and severity of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders is a wonderful way to help.
Remind Clients to Prepare for The Postpartum Period
Many parents plan a lot for pregnancy and birth. They take classes, read the books, and of course, hire you as their doula. However, it is common for parents to be underprepared for the postpartum period.
As a doula, discussing the reality of postpartum healing and demands, is important. You can help them understand the need to prepare for where their meals will come from, how they will heal, manage tasks, etc.
Encourage Clients to Learn and Prepare for Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is natural and it is easy to assume it will be an easy task. However, while it is a natural body process, it can take time and practice to navigate it.
Helping clients have a positive but realistic understanding of breastfeeding is an important part of preparing for birth.
As a doula, providing pregnancy tips is an important part of your job. The better you prepare clients, the more positive of an experience they are likely to have.