What is a Doula?
WHAT IS A DOULA?`
The word “doula” was originally an ancient Greek term meaning “a woman who serves”. Today it refers to a trained and experienced woman who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and just after birth.
WHAT DO DOULAS DO?
A doula provides different things to each family she works with, as their needs vary and each birth is unique.
The personalized care they offer is what makes doulas invaluable. A doula works for your family (rather than for the medical provider), and takes the time to understand your personality and preferences, tailoring her service to fit your needs.
Offering education and information is much of a doula’s job. Many choices and questions can arise during pregnancy and birth, and your doula can give you objective information so that you can decide what is right for you and your child. Informed parents are confident parents.
Doulas provide continuous support during labor and delivery. She will help to make the environment feel safe and conducive to labor (turning down lights, using aromatherapy, getting you more pillows, etc.). She will suggest comfort measures to help you manage your pain (laboring positions, massage, measured breathing, etc.). She will support you emotionally, as labor is intense and can take you through the complete range of human emotions in a very short time. Your doula will be there from beginning to end, offering a familiar, trusted, and knowledgeable presence.
Your doula is on your side 100%. She knows that you are strong and that your body is designed to birth your baby, and she will remind you of this when you need to hear it most. She will support your wishes and respect your birth plan. She will not judge your choices, but see you through them with love and understanding.
WHY WORK WITH A DOULA?
Having the continuous support of someone knowledgeable about and experienced with birth can be invaluable. In today’s busy hospital environment, it is unlikely that nurses will be able to provide this kind of support. Research has shown that families who work with doulas report more positive birth experiences overall, including a significantly lower incidence of Cesarean section rates, fewer requests for epidurals and other pain medications due to experiencing less pain, and shorter labors. Mothers tend to have an easier time with initial breastfeeding and a lower incidence of postpartum depression. Their partners can feel more involved in the birthing experience with the support of a doula.
See also: Scientific Evidence for Use of a Doula