What is a doula?
A woman trained in childbirth hired by the family to provide informational, emotional, physical support continuously during pregnancy, labor and birth. May include the following:
- Helps the family prenatally to put together a birth preference list
- Massage and other forms of reassuring touch
- Encourage the mother to ask questions
- Ensure the mother understands the events taking place during her birth
- Encourages the mother to make decisions during her care
- Verbal encouragement and reassurance
- Creates a comfortable laboring environment (dim lights, soft music, aromatherapy, etc)
- Reassures the mother as she moves through her labor, even when challenges arise
- Some doulas also use aromatherapy and other tools during a woman’s birth
- Suggests different positions to speed up/slow down labor or make labor more comfortable
- Provides support during breastfeeding
- Supports the family unit; fathers, grandparents, aunts, siblings, etc
Does a doula replace a dad/partner?
No. A doula’s role is to support the family unit. This includes encouraging the father to get involved and support the mother in the way only her partner intimately can to the extent he/she feel comfortable. This also includes supporting the partner as they become a parent as well.
Does a doula replace a nursing staff?
No. A doula provides one-to-one care for the birthing family. While a doula doesn’t do medical tasks, she does help the family achieve the information they need to make informed choices should an intervention arise.
What is the difference between a Midwife and a doula?
A Midwife provides clinical support including fetal heart tone checks, vaginal exams, health assessments, etc. While a Midwife may provide some emotional and physical support, a doula has the mother’s experience as her sole priority, including a satisfying birth experience with a healthy mother and healthy baby.
Why does a mother need a doula?
A doula provides support the family, nursing staff and care provider usually are unable to provide. This support empowers the mother to make choices, and creates an atmosphere for an empowering birth. The mother then carries over that empowerment into her motherhood.
What effects does a doula have on the birth?
Studies show having a doula:
- Reduces the need for labor stimulating drugs
- Reduces the request for pain medication and epidurals
- Reduces the need for cesarean births
- Shortens labor with fewer complications
- Increases the occurrence of a satisfying birth experience
What effects does a doula have on the mother?
When a doula is present during and after childbirth, women report greater satisfaction with their birth experience, make more positive assessments of their babies, have fewer cesareans and requests for medical intervention, and less postpartum depression.
What effects does a doula have on the baby?
Studies have shown that babies born with doulas present tend to have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions to special care nurseries, breastfeed more easily and have more affectionate mothers in the postpartum period.
Does a doula make decisions?
No. A doula does not make decisions for clients or intervene in their clinical care. She provides support while respecting the woman’s decisions.
What about if a woman wants pain medication?
While a doula does lessen the need for pain medication, some women still desire and/or need pharmaceutical pain medication. When this occurs, doulas can help maximize the benefits of pain medications while minimizing their undesirable side effects. The comfort and reassurance offered by the doula are beneficial regardless of the use of pain medications.
What is the difference between a Postpartum Doula and a Night Nanny?
A night nanny takes over care of the baby during the sleeping hours for the family. A postpartum doula still supports the family as a unit through the night, guiding them in 'night time parenting'. They take time to find out specifically what the family wants in regards to breastfeeding, bottle feeding, pumping, etc. Doulas also have a keen respect for the postpartum mood challenges and need for emotional processing even in the late hours of the evening. Postpartum doulas are trained in infant care, breastfeeding, nurturing the mother, infant sleep, and many other areas that night nanny's may not have as much education in.