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What is a Doula? 

DOULA (dōō'lə) n. A doula is an experienced, non-medical assistant who provides physical, emotional and informed choice support in prenatal care, during childbirth and during the postpartum period.

 

I have never heard of a doula before.  Why is that? 

Women supporting other laboring women have been around for probably about as long as women have been having babies.  However, since births began taking place in hospitals about eighty years ago, these birth assistants have been kept out of the delivery room due to hospital protocols and regulations.  Women accepted this change since birth in the hospital was perceived as safer back then.  So much so that they were willing to forgo the deemed unnecessary support companions (including Fathers).  Times have changed since this practice was first initiated.  Fathers have long since been allowed in the delivery room.  Now the female labor companions are making a strong comeback.  In the last 20 years or so, there has been a shift in attitudes from women requesting more support in labor and this response came in the form of Doulas.  People began using the word "Doula” to describe this role since the 90's.  Today we are enjoying a thriving professional occupation as we are in great demand.  Other names for Doulas are: 
  • Professional Labor Coach
  • Birthworker
  • Labor Companion
  • Birth Sister
  • Birth Assistant
  • Grandma, Mom, Sister, Best Friend...and any other female companion that offers meaningful support to another woman in labor  
 

I don't think I need a Doula.  What do they really do for me?

First and foremost, a good doula is a very nurturing soul.   She will provide you with labor support techniques that you cannot do alone, like offer advice for changing positions when appropriate and trying different and specialized massages specifically used to reduce the pains of labor when needed.   We can also help you with visualizations to get you to a relaxed state suitable for sustaining calm and control when you need it most.

I think the most important aspect of having a doula is the preparation you’re able to do with her before you ever have a  contraction. The prenatal meetings are designed to give you as much information as possible so you can make informed decisions about your options in preparing for and birthing your baby.   During this time, we establish a level of trust with each other and a sense of safety and reliability. This is done so that when you call for assistance during labor, we can relieve your tension and bring a sense of calm to the surrounding environment upon arrival.   Another benefit doulas bring is that you don't have to feel embarrassed with anything you do during labor.   We are not your mothers, sisters or friends, so there’s no need to have any inhibitions with us.   We have seen it all, so you can feel comfortable going into labor mode and do what you must do to bring your baby into the world.

Further, unlike hospital staff, we will stay by your side from the moment we arrive, as well as1-2 hours after you deliver your baby to assist you with breastfeeding. Labor and Delivery Nurses do not provide continuous support nor will they offer drug-free pain management techniques to help you cope with labor. With a doula, you and your partner can feel safe and informed about all your rights and options in the hospital.   Among the stressful factors parents often deal with at the hospital are nurses changing shifts and your doctor not being on call. It’s a lot of uncertainty during a vulnerable state. However, you can feel confident in us, knowing we will be there for you throughout the length of your labor to aid you in birthing your baby.   We support you 100% in achieving the best birth experience that you desire.   If this interests you, then perhaps it’s time to give yourself the birth you’ve always wanted …with a doula.

 

Is a doula the same thing as a midwife or a nurse?

No – A doula provides no medical or nursing care.  Since she doesn’t have these responsibilities, or other patients to attend to, she can give her complete and total attention to being by a woman’s side for the entire length of her labor providing continuous emotional and physical support.


What kind of training does a doula have? 

This can vary from doula to doula.  For me, I am a member of DONA International which has the highest certification standards for doulas worldwide.  Achieving certification is a process that requires considerable time and effort.  Typically this can take up to a year or more to complete.  I have been certified since September 2006.  For more information, please go to DONA.org.  In October of 2007, I was certified as a HypnoBirthing Practitioner. 


Does a doula replace the partner in the labor and delivery?

A doula doesn’t replace anyone.  She is another member of the birth team, and supports everyone in their own role.  A doula’s presence helps partners participate at their own comfort level, showing them how and when to use various comfort techniques, providing information, and in some cases, looking after them as well.  Partners are often grateful to be able to share the “coaching” responsibility with someone more experienced, and can therefore enjoy the birth experience more themselves.


Will my doula support me in my home?

Yes – As your doula, my support begins when you call me.  I will come to your house and help you labor at home or meet you at the hospital; whichever you prefer.


Will my doula support me if I need medical intervention? 

Yes – We will of course work towards your preferred goal but if unforeseen events should occur, I will support you through your entire birth experience.  I will continue to care for you, offering emotional and informational support as well as physical support as needed.  When it’s time for you to birth your baby, my assistance as your doula can be invaluable for the birth as well as your postpartum care no matter what the circumstances are at that time.