What is a Doula?
A Doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
A Birth Doula
- Understands the physiology of birth
- Understands the emotional needs of a woman in labor
- Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
- A Doula will stay and assist the woman through the entire birth process
- Provides emotional support and physical comfort measures
- Encourages the woman’s partner to participate at his/her comfort level
Studies have shown that when Doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed easier. Other studies have shown that having a Doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%,the use of oxytocin by 40% and requests for an epidural by 60%.
A Postpartum Doula
- Offers education, companionship and nonjudgmental support after the baby is born
- Assists with newborn care and family adjustment
- 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
- Assist with basic household chores and meal preparation
- Assists with breastfeeding
Research evidence shows that the quality services of a postpartum doula can ease the transition that comes with the addition of a baby to a family, improve parental satisfaction and reduce the risk of mood disorders.