What is a Doula (Doo*la)?
The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a women who serves". The modern definition is now used to describe a "trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotion and information support to the mother before, during and just after birth." Ancient history shows that women in labor always had loving women by their side.
A Doula is a trained birth professional who:
Trusts in the natural process of labor & delivery.
Essentially "mothers the mother".
Provides constant emotional, physical, and informational support prenatally, during labor, as well as postpartum.
Does not replace your caregiver or partners, instead she complements them..
Helps you prepare your birth plan.
Suggests and provides comfort measures to ease labor pains..
Works as your advocate.
Helps ensure a smoother, safer, more fulfilling birth experience for you & your partner.
A Labor and Birth Doula:
- Is aware of birth as a key life experience that the mother will remember all her life
- Understands the bodily processes of birth and the emotional needs of a woman throughout labor
- Supports the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their plans for the birth, as well as being prepared to be "un-prepared"
- Stays by the side of the laboring woman from the moment she is called in and throughout the entire labor
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint and assistance to the woman in getting the information she needs to make good decisions
- Encourages and facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and clinical care providers
- Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman's memory of her birth experience
- Allows the woman's partner to participate at their comfort level
- Maintains all information received from her clients as confidential
A Labor and Birth Doula does not:
- Perform clinical tasks such as taking blood pressure, listening to fetal tones or doing vaginal exams.
- Make decisions for you. She will help you to get the information necessary to make an informed decision. She will also remind you if there is a departure from your birth plan.
- Speak to staff instead of you regarding matters where decisions are being made. She will suggest your concerns with you and suggest options, but you or your partner will speak on your behalf to the clinical staff.
Partners and Doulas:
The baby’s partner plays an essential role in providing support for the baby’s mother. A doula cannot make some of the unique contributions that the partner makes. Such contributions include an intimate knowledge of the woman, and their love for her and the baby. As doulas, we are not there instead of the partner. It has been found that a doula compliments the role of the partner. Some partners may feel over whelmed with the expectations to be instant experts and decision makers in regards to childbirth. That type of expectation is unrealistic for anyone who has little prior knowledge of birth or medical procedures. With this expectation, some partners can feel helpless and distressed and are not able to provide the confident reassurance and constant nurturing that a woman in labor needs. With a doula present, the pressure on the partner is decreased and they are able to participate at their own level of comfort. Partners often feel relieved when they know they have a doula there to help them and they actually enjoy the experience much more!