What is a doula?
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves”. It is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous emotional, physical and informational support to the mother and family during pregnancy, delivery and the postpartum period.
A Birth Doula
- Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labour
- Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
- Stays with the woman throughout the labour
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint
- Helps the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
- Facilitates communication between the labouring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
- Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman’s memory of the birth experience
- Allows the woman’s partner to participate at his/her comfort level
- Assists in establishing breastfeeding immediately after birth
- Provides breastfeeding support in the early postpartum
A birth doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials CD(DONA).
A Postpartum Doula:
- Facilitates a smooth transition into parenthood
- Provides education, companionship and nonjudgmental in-home support in the 3 months following birth
- Offers evidence-based information on infant care, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents
- Supports, encourages and educates families in breastfeeding (e.g. lactation, positions, proper latch, common concerns etc.) within scope of practice
- Assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tidying
- Makes appropriate referrals when necessary
For more information and for a doula in your area you can access www.dona.org