What is a Doula?
With doulas becoming a more common household name, many people are under the impression that doulas are a new, trendy service. This is far from the case! Women have been helping women birth, since birth began.
However, what is relatively new, is a professionalization of the service. This offers the birthing family and the doula clarity on their roles, and ensures everyone is safe. With that said, it's so important for anyone hiring a doula to know the roles and limitations of a doula. So here you go. As I am a DONA certified Birth and Postpartum Doula, I'm adhering to their Code of Ethics.
You will find that a birth doula will offer the following:
- Access to educational resources
- Emotional and physical support
- Continuous support during labor and birth
- Supports the labouring person's primary support team
- Early postpartum and breast/bottle feeding support
You should NEVER find a birth doula offering the following:
- Act or speak for the labouring person or their family
- Impose personal biases or tell the family what to do
- Replace the support people in the labouring person's life
- Offer any medical/clinical advice or support
A postpartum doula offers the following:
- Helps new parents adjust to parenthood over the course of the first 3 months (or more) of their baby(ies) life
- Physical and emotional support to new family
- Assists with breastfeeding and/or other feeding methods
- Help siblings adjust to changes
- Help with light household tasks - laundry, dishes etc.
- Help parents have time for personal tasks - i.e. showering
- Offer links to community resources
A postpartum doula does not:
- Impose any parenting opinions
- Provide any medical advice or diagnosis
- Act as a babysitter or nanny
- Replace your primary support system
How will a doula benefit a birthing or postpartum family?
If you've started doing any research on doulas, you will have come across many stats outlining their benefits. There are so many!
Here's what DONA says:
"Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth
- Tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
- Reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
- Reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
- Reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals
Research shows parents who receive support can:
- Feel more secure and cared for
- Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
- Have greater success with breastfeeding
- Have greater self-confidence
- Have less postpartum depression
- Have lower incidence of abuse"
Doulas offer increased confidence and satisfaction and a higher chance of healthy outcomes for everyone involved. What a gift!
What should we ask a prospective doula?
It's important that you, and your support people find a doula that is the right match. You should all get along and feel comfortable with each other. By all means, use recommendations, but make sure that the doula gels with you. According to DONA "The way that you feel with a doula is more important than the number of births that they have attended or how many new families they have nurtured." Unlike your OB or midwife (who offer you medical support), your doula will offer continuity of care - they do not operate by the clock or shift, and will most likely be there supporting you for a long time. That means that you should meet prospective doulas face to face, have a talk and ask some questions.
Some important areas to consider are:
- Training and relevant qualifications
- Clear fees, refund policy and a contract
- A back up doula that you are able to meet
- Experience helping families as a doula, or in another relevant field
- Philosophies about birth and the postpartum period
- The types of prenatal and postpartum support that are offered. Some doulas have restrictions on their support.
- When and how to contact your doula
- Criminal background check, CPR and medical history
Please send me a message to find out more about my birth and postpartum doula services or anything doula related.