What is a Doula?
The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth.
Why consider having a Doula?
Child birth is intense, demanding, unpredictable, and painful, and it can last from a few hours to 24 hours or more. Even if you are prepared, you may find it difficult. If you are not well prepared, the challenges of labor can be scary and anxiety producing. Doctors, nurses, and midwifes rarely remain in the room throughout labor, as they have many different patients to tend to. Doulas guide you continuously throughout labor and birth. Doulas are on call for you 24/7, arrive at your home or hospital when you need, and remain with you by your side until the baby is born.
Will my Doula be a third wheel?
Unless your significant other is a midwife or OB/GYN, he or she isn’t going to know nearly as much about the birth process as your Doula. Even if it’s your second or third time having a baby, there will likely come a time when your partner will probably feel overwhelmed. Your Doula is there to guide both of you through the process. She can suggest specific ways your partner can help you, while respecting the intimacy of your experience together.
What if I intend to have an epidural and do not want a natural birth?
Doulas provide support for all kinds of births. Whatever your choices, Doulas provide assistance to navigate the myriad situations and choices during your labor and help your experience be the very best it can be. Doulas support women laboring with and without medications, and those who meet their babies via cesareans. Doulas believe every woman and her partner can have a more positive experience with support. In addition, guidance and suggestions with such things as positions to continue labor progress can be invaluable in all different types of birth scenarios. It is the focused continuity of care that is one of the greatest benefits a Doula can provide to a laboring woman and her partner.
What is the difference between a Doula and a Midwife?
A midwife performs actual medical care and delivery. A Doula is there to support the mother and meet her needs. When both a midwife and a doula attend a birth it can make the birth a special and relaxing time.
A Birth Doula....
-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 their comfort level
(Source: DONA International)
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