Doula means "a woman who serves." She is sometimes called a birth coach and is a trained professional who can help during birth, postpartum, when a baby dies, or watching siblings during birth.
Doulas do not....
Deliver Babies (that is for your midwife or doctor to do.)
Provide physical, emotional, and educational support from pregnancy to beyond.
A birth doula will offer guidance, physical and emotional support, and information to help couples make informed choices before, during, and after the birth. Doulas utilize techniques and comfort measures which ease labor pains and allow the birthing woman to work with her labor in a positive way. Doulas are extremely versed in the terminology surrounding childbirth, as well as common medical interventions, so they can assist their clients in navigating their way through a sometimes confusing and overwhelming system.
Before, after, and during the birth, doulas educate families and help them find the information they need to make confident choices for their family and their birth. Doulas remain with their clients throughout the entire labor, birth, and immediate postpartum time. Perhaps most importantly, doulas are there to provide steadfast, non-judgmental emotional support and reassurance for dad and mom.
Having this continuous support from a non-biased professional is associated with improved maternal and fetal health, lower risk of interventions, and less need for pain relief medications.
A postpartum doula assists the new parents with whatever they may need during their postpartum period. A large part of their role is education. They will share information about caring for the baby’s needs and breastfeeding. They may assist in caring for the baby while mom and/or dad take a much needed nap or shower. They may help do household chores that the new family feels too overwhelmed to handle. A postpartum doula will assist the new family while they gain confidence and knowledge about their new baby.
A sibling doula is a blend of a birth doula and a nanny. She has the experience and training of both worlds. She can either be the on call person who comes to your house to watch your kids when you go into labor, the person who is at the hospital watching your kids until other family members turn up, or the one who watches kids while you labor at home. With a home birth she will take the kids in and out of the birth area as needed, feed them lunch, play with them, and more so that you and your partner can focus on the birth. She can come at a moment’s notice and will stay as long or as short as you need her.
A bereavement doula provides physical, emotional, and informational support to families experiencing miscarriage or baby loss at any stage of pregnancy or soon after birth. They provide this support in many different ways, depending on the needs and wants of the family. They may attend appointments and/or the birth with the family, explore memorial options, and be there for the grieving family in any way they can.
Fertility Doulas walk with you on your journey of trying to conceive. For some it is a short journey and for some it is a long journey that is frustrating and confusing. A doula can be a great listener, educator, motivator, and guide.