From the ancient Greek word doulē meaning, “a woman who serves”. It is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a pregnant person before, during and just after birth.
A doula . . .
• Works with the medical staff, as a team, to make sure the birthing person and their partner feel comfortable and informed at all times.
• Recognizes birth as a special experience that will be remembered for a lifetime.
• Provides information and topics that can be brought up during prenatal appointments.
• Stays with the birthing person throughout the labor and provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint.
• Provides guidance and physical support through natural comfort measures such as: breathing techniques, labor positions, meditations, visualizations, massage, rebozo, counter-pressure, TENS machine and more!
• Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of an individual in labor.
• Assists the birthing person in preparing for and carrying out their birth plans.
• Facilitates smooth communication between the laboring person, their partner and their clinical care providers.
• Outlines the process of labor as it is happening so the couple knows what to expect next.
• Provides the birthing person and/or partner with evidence-based information regarding occurrences pre-birth and during labor to facilitate their informed consent.
• Encourages and guides the partner to participate in labor as they feel comfortable.
• Shows a caring and empathetic attitude, never undermining or invalidating feelings and emotions.
• Helps the birthing person and partner work through fears and self-doubt.
• Connects you with local resources and referrals.
• Breastfeeding & postpartum support 1-2 hours post birth.
• Debriefs after the birth—listens to the birthing person and/or partner with empathy.
A doula does not . . .
• Provide medical care (ie blood pressure monitoring, cervical exams etc..)
• Give unsolicited advice or make decisions for you.
• Replace the partner.
What about the partner?
The role of the doula is never to take the place of the partner, but rather to complement and enhance their experience. Many partners decide to play an active role in the birth process. However, some partners prefer to enjoy the delivery without having to stand in as the labor coach. By having a doula as a part of the birth team, the partner is free to do whatever they choose. Doulas encourage the partner to participate as much or as little as they prefer. Having a doula allows them to support their partner emotionally while also enjoying the experience without added pressure.