“A doula supports your body, mind, and spirit through pregnancy and your transition into motherhood,” explains Lori Bregman, author of bestseller The Mindful Mom to Be, the Los Angeles–based doula and life coach. “Basically we’re there to love you up!”
Whether you’re expecting, a brand new mom, or are trying to get pregnant, navigating the business of being born can be overwhelming and confusing. A doula is there to hold the space for you and your partner and answer your questions as you transition into this new and exciting time in your life. They usually meet with the parents throughout the pregnancy and are always present for labor and birth.
What's the difference between a doula and a midwife?
Unlike a midwife, who can deliver a baby and often has a medical background, a doula offers more spiritual guidance, coaching, and support. This can involve clearing energy and treating a new mother’s body, mind, and spirit through nutrition. Bregman believes the reason some otherwise completely healthy women may have difficulty getting pregnant is because of a block in their energy systems or chakras. Clearing that energy can allow the space for new life to begin and flourish, as can exercises like yoga, meditation, and eating a healthy diet.
Are there any doula-recommended fertility-boosting foods?
Meeting with a doula is a great way to go once you find out you're expecting. But if you're trying to get pregnant, consider eating more doula-recommended foods that are thought to boost fertility—in both men and women. They include:
- Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like grass-fed eggs.
- Veggies with folic acid, like asparagus, broccoli, avocado, and spinach.
- Warming dishes, including lentils or warm porridge with spices like cinnamon and cardamom, are believed to make the womb a more inviting space for new life, according to Ayurvedic medicine.
- Anti-inflammatory foods, which help reduce inflammation in the body—get tons of ideas and recipes here. In addition to berries and dark green and cruciferous veggies, try superfood add-ins like maca, acai, powdered greens, bee pollen, wheatgrass in your morning smoothie or oatmeal.
Is it OK to shift my eating habits when pregnancy cravings kick in?
If you've got a bun in the oven, don't be alarmed if your vegan or Paleo diet suddenly goes out the window—pregnancy cravings are very real! Try to eat intuitively. If you pay attention, your body will tell you what you need. And don't be too hard on yourself if you don't follow your normal eating habits perfectly. Just remember that what you put in and on your body during this time is contributing to the foundation and future health of your child—so Bregman recommends organic and natural products as often as possible.
The time around your pregnancy and the birth of your baby is an exciting and joyful time, so try to enjoy it and listen to your body as much as you can. Working with a doula can be an amazing way to reduce stress as you experience the process of bringing new life into the world.
Illustration by Foley Wu