Why the name Godsib?
I'm reclaiming a forgotten Chaucerian word that's due for a revival.
Godsib is short for God-sibling: a Godmother to your children. A woman chose only her most wise and trusted friends for this sacred role, since it bound them to her for life through shared responsibility for raising her children. These co-mothers would naturally be the ones to draw around her the next time she gave birth, to help her gather her courage. So the word godsib came to stand for a birth companion.
This name therefore speaks of the spiritual nature of my work and the lifelong kinship I share with the families I serve. It reconnects us with an older philosophy of birth where relationship, rather than procedure, is central — and where women are one another’s living witnesses to the fact that, in the end, babies do come out.
Questions people ask
Excuse me, but I’m not even sure how you say “doula”.
“Doo-lah.” You’re welcome!
How do you define a doula's role?
A birth doula is a professional labor companion, providing emotional, physical and informational support for growing families. This is different from a midwife: a midwife is a medical care provider who specializes in facilitating straightforward birth. She might check cervical dilation, monitor your wellbeing, administer medications and catch your baby. She works within various organizational constraints, and she may never have met you before you arrive in labor, might be taking care of several women at once, and rarely has time to get to know you well. As a doula, I don’t attend to the medical part of your care, so I can focus on your needs as a person, not just as a body. I’m a familiar friend before labor, never go off shift, and don’t work for anyone but you.
If I don't give birth on my due date, will you be there?
I appreciate very well that the timing of birth cannot be predicted! A “due” date is really a “guess” date, and the normal length of human gestation varies as much as five weeks. Because of this, my doula services come with a four-week on-call period, usually 38-42 weeks. If you go into labor outside the period we agree upon, I will still attend you if it is humanly possible.
When do I contact you in labour? What if it’s night?
Good questions. We will discuss these issues in person during our antenatal meetings, so that you will be confident when the time comes. In short, you will be able and welcome to contact me any time you need me, day or night.
What if I want an epidural?
It’s a common misperception that doula support is only for people who want a drug-free birth. In fact, doula services are for people who want a good birth – and only a woman herself can decide what a good birth means for her. Studies show that your satisfaction has less to do with the pain relief you have or don’t have and more to do with whether you feel in control and respected. If an epidural helps you as an individual to achieve that, I completely respect your choice and will get busy helping you into positions that will ease your birth.
I’m planning a Caesarean. Would a doula still help?
Caesareans have a reputation for being an easy way to have a baby, but that is far from true for most women.
Needing a Caesarean is all the more cause to benefit from a doula’s emotional, physical and informational support. At a Caesarean, I can guide you through the important decisions that are available to you, keep you mentally steady and explain what is happening during complex procedures, witness to the fact that a spiritual as well as a medical process is taking place, help you breastfeed while you're still in the operating room, remain with you while your partner goes off with the baby, and support you in caring for your newborn, which is more challenging after surgical birth.
What if my birth doesn’t go according to my plan?
Will I still be there for you? Absolutely! Whatever your circumstances or choices, I’m there for you.
I have a gorgeous, talented partner/husband; won’t a doula be overkill?
Good for you, but NO! Three reasons why:
I don’t need a doula for my homebirth, do I?
With one-to-one midwifery care, why would you want a doula, too? Here are five good reasons.
Won’t you see my bits? What if I poo?
What if my partner isn’t on board with hiring you?
That’s quite common. Perhaps some additional reading such as Penny Simkin’s The Birth Partner will help him (or her) understand the size of the task he is taking on. Then I’d encourage him to come along to our initial interview, where there can be good conversation without any pressure. This may help you both visualise how we could work together as a team, and things may fall right into place. I’m happy to put him in touch with other dads whose babies’ births I attended, who were also sceptical about hiring me to start with. In the end, these partners often express how very glad they are that they did, and go on to become some of doulas' greatest fans.
How soon in my pregnancy do I need to book you, Laura?
As soon as the two lines appear on the stick or as late as early labour! An early booking allows us get to know each other and ensures that I am available (because I limit the number of births I attend each month to two).