What is a Doula?
A doula is a trained professional who provides informational, emotional, and physical support to parents that are expecting a baby, experiencing labor or have recently given birth.
Definition of "doula"
A doula is a trained professional who provides informational, emotional, and physical support to individuals and their partners or families that are expecting a baby, experiencing labor or have recently given birth. A doula is a birth worker whose mission is to educate and empower pregnant persons during their birth experience. A postpartum doula works with families in the days and weeks following delivery as they adjust to their new family dynamic and navigating, including through extended NICU stays and during times of loss and grieving.
What does a doula do?
A birth doula’s job is to provide continuous support, especially during labor, guiding you through the process and helping you focus on delivering your baby. A birth doula will stay by your side and can be present during conversations with your healthcare provider (ob/gyn or midwife) to make sure you have all the information you need, understand it, and make decisions. A doula advocates for your birth preferences and gives you the confidence to use your voice in order to take charge of your experience. With the dedicated support of a doula, you can focus entirely on having your baby.
A doula does not replace the role your partner or family plays in the birth experience but instead adds to your support team. Your support people are experts on you. A doula is an expert in the birth process. Together, they create the ultimate support team that is unique to you and your needs.
A birth doula will work with you in the weeks leading up to your estimated due date to help you prepare for the emotional and physical nature of labor and delivery. In the hours immediately after birth, your doula can assist in the baby’s first-latch, coordinating skin-to-skin contact and making sure you understand what, if any, medical procedures have taken place after you have delivered your baby.
Partners & Family
A birth doula will work with you and your support team (husband, wife, partner, kids, parents, friends) in the month or two leading up to your birth, ensuring everyone feels informed, included and prepared for the birth experience. This can include childbirth education, helping to prepare your birth plan, providing exposure to different birthing philosophies, techniques and procedures or working to incorporate cultural or religious practices into the birth experience. A birth doula will help you understand your options once labor has started, can work to keep your support team confident and encouraged in their roles with specific tools and will work to ensure an effective communication line between you, your support team and your health care provider(s): doctors, midwives, nurses, etc.
A postpartum doula is trained to support new parents and their families as they settle into life after birth. The days and weeks after birth are such a crucial time for you to bond with your baby but it's also imperative you focus on your healing. A postpartum doula can help relieve the burden of everyday responsibilities by offering physical, emotional and mental support. No family is the same and a postpartum doula should come in with an open mind, ready and willing to use their training and experience to help as needed. Postpartum support should be based on a family's unique needs and provide assistance tailored just for you.