A doula is a person who serves the mother, or “mothers the mother” during the prenatal period, the birth experience, and the postpartum period.
Doulas are appropriate for women who have a partner attending the birth or do not have a partner attending the birth – they will support both the mother and her partner. Doulas are appropriate for mothers who desire an unmedicated birth and mothers who desire an epidural – they are here to respect YOU and offer non-judgemental, emotional support. Doulas are appropriate for mothers who are planning a vaginal birth or a cesarean section – they help you learn about your choices and support you during the birth and recovery periods.
Research shows that women who are supported by doulas tend to have shorter labors and lower intervention rates. They also report more positive childbirth experiences and have a higher rate of initiating breastfeeding.
- 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 labor
- Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
- Stays with the woman throughout the labor
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
- Facilitates communication between the laboring 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
- Helps to initiate breastfeeding between the infant and the mother
- Offers education, companionship and nonjudgmental support during the postpartum fourth trimester
- Assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tidying
- Offers evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents and makes appropriate referrals when necessary