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