Last year I had to have my back molar removed. (If you'd like to know how a complete lack of self-care led to me having to have a tooth removed, you can read all about it here.) This was not a fun experience at all. In fact, I am terrified of the dentist and all things dentist-related, so "not fun" is an understatement. This was an anxiety-producing, fearful moment for me. If only I had a doula that day.

Why a doula?

You've most likely heard about birth doulas and maybe you've even heard of postpartum doulas, but do you really understand what a doula provides? A doula is a trained professional who is there to provide physical, emotional, and non-judgmental support. In our society, we use doulas during birth and postpartum times, sometimes even near the end of life. But have you thought about what that support would look like in your everyday life? I can only imagine how much better my experience would have been if I had a doula with me the day I had my tooth removed.

Non-Judgmental Support

I was ashamed and embarrassed to have to tell people that I was having a tooth removed. I'm only in my mid-thirties and I try (emphasis on try) to take care of my self, mentally and physically. How had it come to tooth removal? Well, that's what happens when you don't go to the dentist for five years. I knew that was bad. I did not need anyone saying, "I told you so. See, if you'd only gone to the dentist sooner this would not have happened."

No, I needed someone to support me without judgment in that moment. I had choices to make going forward and it would have been so nice to have a doula there to listen and provide unbiased support for my next steps. With a doula, I could have just let it all out - my embarrassment over my own lack of self-care, my fear of the upcoming procedure. A doula could have listened to all of this and helped me reflect and process, all without bias or judgment.

Educational Support

After coming to terms with the fact that I was going to have my tooth removed, I had choices to make. I needed to find an oral surgeon to perform the extraction. I wanted someone who would be gentle and understanding of a patient with extreme anxiety around the dentist. I had to decide how I wanted the procedure to be performed - with only local anesthesia, local anesthesia plus a narcotic pain-killer, or even general anesthesia. What would be the best option for me. I also had to think about whether I would want an implant following the removal - how much would this cost, what was the procedure like for having an implant put in, what would happen if I did not go for an implant?

Again, this is where doula support would have been invaluable. It would have been great to have someone who could provide me with recommendations on wonderful oral surgeons, who would meet my needs. My doula could have explained the various pain relief options available to me and the pros and cons of each. Perhaps my doula could have pointed me in the direction of some good research regarding implants. Without a doula, I had to do all of this on my own - at a time when I was already overwhelmed and stressed out.

Emotional and Physical Support

When I finally screwed up the courage and went to the dentist after a five-year hiatus, I was terrified. My heart-level and my anxiety rose and I cried in that dentist chair when they told me I was going to lose my tooth. The day of the actual removal was not any better. I think I might have been shaking just thinking about what was to come. What I needed was a doula. I needed a trained professional to calm me and center me and help me with those fears. I did have my husband with me, and he's a wonderfully supportive man, but when I get scared, he get's scared for me - and it shows. Not with a doula. A doula can provide a level of emotional support that is free of the personal attachment that comes with your loved ones.

The day of my removal, my husband had to take the day off work so he could drive me and pick me up from the procedure. My kids were out of school so we also had to find childcare for them. Back home, after the procedure, my husband was able to get me tucked into bed. But then he had to go pick up the kids, fill my pain medication prescription at the drug store, and then head over to the grocery store for some comforting, soft food that I would be able to eat. For the rest of the evening and the next day, he was on primary childcare duty so that I could rest. And while it was great to have him taking care of our children, it left no one to take care of me. That is where the physical support of a doula would have been a lifesaver. The doula could have run errands for us or entertained the children. Or she could have been with me, bringing me water and comfort food, reminding me to take my pain medication and check my gauze. When you are feeling low, it is so wonderful to have someone focused on you and your needs.

If only I had a doula when I had my tooth removed, the whole procedure would have been less overwhelming and easier to get through.

Now imagine this level of support when you bring your new baby home - you have a trained professional at your service, providing emotional, physical, and educational support in an unbiased and non-judgmental manner. That is what a postpartum doula does. She supports you, focuses on your needs, answers your questions, and keeps your household running during an overwhelming and vulnerable time in your life.

If you are expecting, contact us today. Don't find yourself saying, "If only I had a doula when I had my baby."

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