What is a Doula?

The word, "doula," comes from the ancient Greek, meaning servant..  Today the word has come to refer to "a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth."  A doula provides non-medical support and care to a woman and her loved ones during childbirth.  Women's needs are complex during childbirth. In addition to obstetrical care, and the love and companionship provided by loved ones, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. They need individualized care based on their circumstances and preferences. To this end, a doula works with a woman and her family, physicians, midwives and nurses with an aim to enhance communication and understanding.  When a Doula is present, the pressure on the partner is also decreased, allowing participation at the partner's comfort level and increasing the enjoyment of the birth experience.  WHAT ELSE CAN A DOULA DO  Not An Exhaustive List  

  • offer non medical, non judgemental, and non intrusive support
  • help you and  your partner feel more confident
  • help you identify your fears and suggest ways to deal with your fears
  • dispel the myths that are common
  • offers suggestions to help you achieve an unmedicated birth
  • anticipate mom and partners needs in labour and post delivery
  • protect your space
  • make sure you are staying well nourished and well hydrated and prepare food for you if you are at home
  • prepare snacks while in your home if needed
  • field phone calls and visitors
  • extra pair of hands to help carry or retrieve any thing
  • offer list of items to take to hospital or additional comfort items for homebirths
  • suggest how to use furnishings in your home to help with comfort and progress
  • works cooperatively with all members of the health care team and is constant through staff changes and alternating provider schedules
  • help ease the transition from home to hospital
  • help you identify needs common to women in labour and postpartum
  • massage, acupressure, positioning suggestion, apply heat or cold
  • refer to other birth professionals and other modalities, eg. chiropractic care, acupuncture, breastfeeding specialists
  • verbal encouragement
  • suggest tools that may offer comfort in labour eg, heat pack, lip balm, music, massage oil, birth ball, reflex ball, reboz, rolling pin, external focus
  • set up pool or fill tub and empty when finished
  • help you develop a postpartum plan for support or to ease the transition to parenthood
  • breastfeeding support
  • telephone and email support
  • take pictures
  • keep notes to review at a postpartum visit
  • remind you to stay in the moment
  • believes in you even if sometimes you don't believe in yourself
  • reminds you of  the need to be flexible 

WHAT A DOULA DOES NOT DO  

  • Anything medical - including interpreting machines or test results
  • Speak on your behalf
  • Give a second opinion
  • Withhold anything from you
  • Answer for you or your partner
  • Make decisions for you 

Why hire a doula  ?  Research has found that women who have one-on-one professional labour support tend to have shorter labours, fewer complications, and healthier newborns. Doulas also help foster a more relaxed postpartum environment as well, and enhance early mother-infant relationships, breastfeeding and family adjustments.

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