What is a Doula and why do you need one?

Why do you need a doula?

Pregnancy is a very vulnerable time for women. Most women experience some form of emotional and physical exhaustion due to the changes brought on by pregnancy. It is important for these women to seek out care from their providers or from an experienced person who has extensive knowledge of pregnancy and can provide the care needed.

Most providers such as a gynecologists and primary care providers have a vast amount of patients to care for unfortunately this leaves their patients searching for care from outside sources. Also, a gynecologist and primary care providers do not provide in home or personalized services to their patients. If you are looking to have customized services at home, you can hire a Birthing Days Doula.

WHAT IS A DOULA?

The Greek word doula means woman caregiver. 

Unlike doctors, midwives or nurses, doulas are not medical professionals and therefore cannot administer medication or other treatments or give medical advice.

A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. The doula’s purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience.

Most often the term doula refers to the birth doula or labor support companion. However, there are also antepartum doulas and postpartum doulas. Most of the following information relates to the labor doula. Doulas can also be referred to as labor companions, labor support specialists, labor support professionals, birth assistants, or labor assistants.

Birth Doula

A birth doula is a trained labor companion that provides the birthing person and partner (if applicable) continuous emotional support, physical comfort and help in receiving evidence based information and resources during the prenatal period, during the birth and just after childbirth. A birth doula understands that birth will be one of the most transformative times in your life, a time that will be remembered for the rest of your life and can effect you greatly.  A birth doula trusts your instincts to know what is best for you and your very unique and individual pregnancy and birth.  A birth doula plays a vital role during the prenatal months offering continuous emotional support and any resources you may need to plan for your dream birth.  A birth doula understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a person in labor.  Your doula will stay by your side throughout the entire labor. She will provide continuous emotional support, physical comfort measures and assistance to you (the birthing person) in getting information needed to make the best decisions for your unique birth.  A birth doula can help facilitate communication between the laboring person, partner, anyone else attending the birth and the clinical care providers.  A birth doula perceives her role as one who nurtures and protects the memory of one’s birth story.

Postpartum Doula

A postpartum doula offers a tremendous amount of emotional support to the entire family welcoming the new baby (or babies) home. This includes supporting siblings, grandparents, pets and anyone else in your unique family in this special and exciting time of adjustment. A postpartum doula helps each parent to develop their own styles of nurturing and bonding with baby and helps you find coping skills that work best for each of you. A postpartum doula is a non-judgmental presence in your home who will offer you evidence based support and then help you navigate what works best for your family and your individual needs. She will never insist that you care for your baby in any particular way. A postpartum doula will support in the birthing person’s physical recovery and give the birth person time to rest, shower and receive extremely important self-care. This will add in her healing post birth. A postpartum doula will make sure everyone is properly nourished and hydrated and will help in making small, healthy meals. She will also do light house-keeping (such as dishes and laundry), and run errands. A postpartum doula will assist with nursing, bottle-feeding and/or pumping. A postpartum doula can teach you how to care for your newborn (e.g., swaddling, diapering, bathing, soothing, baby-wearing, sleeping) and help you find the ways that work best for each of you individually.  A postpartum doula will listen and support. She will offer any needed referrals and/or community support resources needed or wanted. A postpartum doula’s job is to work herself out of a job so that you feel empowered and confident as parents without her in your home.

Kim Sabin