What is a Doula?
Doula is a Greek word that means “Woman’s Servant.” In ancient times, a Doula was the highest, most important female servant in the house who assisted the lady of the house through childbirth. Today a Doula is a skilled, experienced woman who offers physical, emotional and informational support to a mother and father continuously during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.
A Doula is someone whose sole responsibility is to help you accomplish your most difficult task – in your own way. For a Doula, your goal becomes hers. She is someone on your team, helping you to gather information before making important decisions.
A certified Doula has professional training and is proficient in massage, positioning and movement, comfort measures, visualization, and relaxation and breathing techniques. This enables your Doula to make concrete suggestions for positive labor and birthing positions and physical movements which may help shift the baby into a more favorable position for ease of delivery.
A doula can also help you and your partner remember some of the things you learned in your childbirth education class and raise your morale during this unfamiliar and stressful time of labor. Births are never predictable – from woman to woman, from child to child, the birthing process is like a snowflake, each with it’s own distinctive characteristics. A Doula is familiar with labor patterns and can help you navigate the unfamiliar waters of your labor.
Above all, your Doula wants your birth to be a satisfying experience and a positive memory for you and your partner. She fully understands the impact a birth experience can have on a woman’s life and strives to make it the very best possible according to the woman’s own idea about what a positive birth consists of. A Doula seeks to empower her clients with her knowledge of the birth process, its variations and the options available while respecting the integrity of her client’s choices. She is an advocate for the woman and can facilitate communication with the medical staff. At the same time, she helps to maintain a calm atmosphere with lighting, music, massage and other coping techniques.
In the immediate postpartum hours, a Doula can assist with establishing a good breastfeeding relationship by helping to make sure the baby is given ample time skin-to-skin with the mother and answer many questions about breastfeeding and newborn care. Your doula will also meet with you a few days after your birth to answer any questions you may have and to fill in with any information or events you have missed.
When you have a Doula attend to you during your birth, you have a woman at your side who is dedicated to helping you have your best birth experience possible according to your desires for your birth.