What is a Doula?
A non-medical professional experienced and trained in pregnancy and childbirth who provides support through information, emotional support, and guidance to a mother and her partner before, during, and just after childbirth.
What does a Doula do?
A doula's role varies with each client she works for as each woman has different needs for each pregnancy. Much of a doula's job is to offer education and guidance during pregnancy so you know your options and can make informed decisions. During labor a doula offers emotional support to the laboring woman. She will remind you that you are strong and capable and that your body is made to give birth. Birth is such an amazing, intense and personal experience that having someone experienced there to support you can make an enormous difference.
A doula is there to let you know that all your emotions are valid, that you can make noise if you need to, or be quiet if you need to, that you can laugh or cry when you need to. She is there continuously to offer support and encouragement and doesn't change shifts.
Is a Doula only for natural childbirth?
No, doulas support all women during all types of labor and birth. Yes, it is true that doulas are trained in many different methods of drug-free pain management and coping techniques so she may help you with visualization or breathing techniques, suggest position changes, use massage, aromatherapy, acupressure and more. But she is also knowledgeable about pharmacological pain relief, its benefits, drawbacks and administration processes. A doula is well educated and can make sure you know every option and help you make the decision that falls best in line with your birth preferences. Unlike a doctor or nurse who may not support your wishes or respect your birth plan, a doula is always on your side. At the same time, a doula is experienced in facilitating communication between you and your medical team and can help create an all-round supportive environment. A doula supports natural, epidural and cesarean births.
How about Doulas and the dad/partner?
A doula does NOT take the role of the father or partner. Instead, she turns them into experts. She gently guides them when they don't know how to help the mother. She gives them confidence in their ability to love her through the process. Each member of this team has specific knowledge; mom knows her body, the partner knows her and the doula knows birth. So each member has a specific role during this important day. Of course when there is no dad/partner present for whatever reason, a doula can be of even greater importance to the mother.
What doesn't a Doula do?
A doula is NOT a medical professional and therefore does not perform any medical procedures or administer medications. She does not make any decisions for you, but she may remind you of your options and preferences you have written in your birth plan. She also doesn't judge. If your situation changes or you simply change your mind, she will support your choices for the full 100%.
What does research say about Doulas?
Current research supports the use of doulas in labor. Statistics say that women who have a doula for labor and birth have:
31% decrease in use of Pitocin
28% decrease in the risk of C-section
12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience.
Source: Evidence Base Birth. For full article please click here
Who needs a Doula?
Any and every pregnant woman who wants to feel supported by a caring, knowledgeable and experienced other woman in a culture that has mostly forgotten that birth is natural, normal, beautiful, empowering and life changing all wrapped up in one.
Can anyone be a Doula?
Anyone who cares for and supports a woman continuously during labor and birth is wonderful, but not a doula. A doula is educated, trained and experienced in the field of childbirth, thus making her an expert. There are several certifying organizations out there. All have different philosophies, but all require intensive training and continuing education from their doulas. The decision of which doula to hire is a very personal one and can only be made by the mother.
What is a postpartum Doula?
A trained and knowledgeable woman who assists families during the challenging period following birth. The first 6 weeks are considered the postpartum period. A post-partum doula informs, educates and empowers new parents and her goal is to help the transition go smoothly.
What does a postpartum Doula do?
A post-partum doula offers emotional and informational support as well as practical help to the family following the birth of a child. They assist with post-partum comfort measures, breast-feeding support, nonjudgmental guidance and infant care techniques. Services often include making simple meals for the family, holding and diapering the baby, answering the door, taking care of siblings and the baby while parents nap, shower or take a much-needed break. Some doulas do laundry and light cleaning in the kitchen as well as other simple chores.
What doesn't a postpartum Doula do?
A postpartum doula is not a medical professional and does not perform any clinical tasks or diagnose medical conditions, although they will refer you to a medical professional if they notice something of concern. Post-partum doulas are not maids and do not do any heavy cleaning in your house.
Who needs a postpartum Doula?
All families adding a member to their numbers. The transition to becoming parents is the greatest, but adding another child comes with its own set of challenges as well. Families who don't have support from their own family, such as grandparents, should especially look into hiring a postpartum doula. Parents of multiples also greatly benefit from having in house post-partum support. Hiring a professional to assist a family who just added a member to its ranks makes a great gift when you are unable to help.