WHAT IS A DOULA?
The term doula is a Greek word that means handmaiden, mother's helper, or a woman who serves. Today a doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous emotional, physical, and educational/informational support to the mother and family before, during, and just after childbirth as well as during the postpartum period (during the first weeks and months after childbirth). Birth and postpartum doulas provide competent, evidence-based, up-to-date support and services to the families they work with in a non-judgmental manner. Doulas do not perform any clinical tasks or interventions or provide medical advice. The role of a doula is supportive and complimentary.
WHAT IS A BIRTH DOULA
A birth doula:
- Is part of your birth team.
- Helps you prepare your birth wishes and goals.
- Provides information to help you to make decisions and plans for the kind of birth you want.
- Is a constant companion to you and your partner during labor and delivery.
- Does not replace your partner, but the doula takes her cues from you and assists your partner and other birth team members.
- Encourages you to listen to your body and adjust to changes as you progress through labor.
- Suggests and does comfort measures with you during labor and childbirth.
- Serves as a liaison between you and the rest of your medical team if necessary.
- Can help reduce the normal physical and psychological stress for you, your partner, and your baby.
- Assists you with breastfeeding initiation and success.
- Recognizes the importance of birth and early parenting as a critical time in the establishment of a healthy new family.
WHAT IS A POSTPARTUM DOULA?
A postpartum doula:
- "Mothers the new mother!"
- Assists the new mother with her recovery from the birth experience.
- Helps the new family by demonstrating practical newborn care.
- Supports the method of feeding the mother has chosen, and is trained in breastfeeding and bottle feeding techniques.
- Encourages parent/infant bonding.
- Listens, is compassionate, and assists in a thoughtful and kind manner.
- Is available to answer questions, address issues as they arise, and provide resource and referral information as requested or needed.
- Empowers parents to feel strong and confident about their parenting.
- Offers encouragement, reassurance, support and education that address the physical, emotional and educational needs of the whole family.
- Does whatever needs to be done during a time when everyone is tired, anxious and overwhelmed.