Although the role of a doula is increasing in popularity in North America. It is quite surprising how many people we talk to on a regular basis that have a look of confusion when you say the word “doula” in front of them. I’ve had friends say “whats a doula”, a “doo-la-la?”, “A doula huh?”. I wanted to dedicate this post to answering the question of “what exactly is a doula?”.
The word Doula is a Greek word that means “woman caregiver”. Today, it is used widely throughout the world to identify a trained labour assistant or companion who provides both mother and partner continuous emotional and physical support. They also provide assistance with providing the families information and resources that they need before, during, and after birth. There are Birth Doulas (also known as Labour Doulas which is what this post is discussing), and there are Postpartum Doulas who assist the mother and family after the birth in their home, teaching and assisting them in their new life as parents.
Some Birth Doulas may have additional training in certain specializations such as acupressure, hypno-birthing, massage therapy, etc. But the basic role of a doula is to comfort the mother during her labour. This can range from being a calm and caring presence, to providing massage or pressure to relieve pain symptoms, to providing information, or getting ice and water. Their role is different for every mother, as a doulas primary goal to is to be what that specific labouring woman needs her to be.
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman who is in labour.
- Assists the woman and her partner in carrying out their plans for the birth and creating a birth plan.
- Does not leave the labouring mother during her entire labour and for a few hours after birth.
- Helps Facilitate clear communication between the labouring woman, her partner, nursing staff, and all care providers.
- Assists mother partner and baby getting started with breastfeeding.
A Doula does not…
- Provide medical advice, nor does she have medical training.
- Speak on your behalf to your medical caregivers, or tell you what to do.
Some woman who are considering a doula are concerned that perhaps the doula may put pressure towards a certain way of giving birth, (natural, or epidural for example). It is important to know that doulas will support you in any decisions you make. Whether you are having a c-section, epidural, natural birth, home birth etc, a doulas presence is always there to support you.
There are many different types of doulas, each with their own strengths and areas of expertise. Some doulas may be more into supporting a woman verbally and emotionally, informing her as her labour progresses, while others may be more physical and hands on, assisting with counter pressure to help reduce the pain of labour. Likewise all labouring woman are different and are sensitive to different things. Whats important is that you have found a doula who works well with your personality and is able to adapt to your needs during labour.
If the services of a doula are new to you, or you have questions about how we can help you during your pregnancy and labour, feel free to contact us. Reach out to your friends and community and see what other people are saying about doulas.