The Greek word doula means woman caregiver. We now use the word to describe a trained and experienced labor companion who provides the woman and her partner continuous emotional support, physical comfort and assistance in obtaining information before, during and just after childbirth.
A birth doula...
...recognizes birth as a key life experience that the mother will remember all her life.
...understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor.
...assists the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their plans for the birth.
...stays by the side of the laboring woman throughout the entire labor.
...provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint, and assistance to the woman in getting the information she needs to make good decisions.
...facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner, and clinical care providers.
...perceives her role as one who nurtures and protects the woman's memory of her birth experience.
The acceptance of doulas in maternity care is growing rapidly with the recognition of their important contribution to the improved physical outcomes and emotional well-being of mothers and infants.
© 2012 DONA International
So what does this mean for moms? Overall, less interventions, less requests for pain relief, fewer cesarean sections, and increased satisfactions with the birth experience! Who doesn't want that?! For more details about the actual numbers, read the evidence for doulas.
A post partum doula...
... is the manual for your baby that you didn't get in the hospital!
... a trained professional specializing in newborns.
... provides physical support.
... provides emotional support.
... provides informational support.
... provides step by step support in bathing, changing, feeding, swaddling, and all those other newborn things that most parents have never done before.
Research shows that having post partum support lowers rates of postpartum mood disorders including depression, has higher rates of breastfeeding success, deeper bonds between parents and baby, and parents having more confidence in their skills and competence with their baby.
"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it." ~ John H. Kennell, MD