What is a Doula?

Doula is a Greek word that means woman caregiver. A birth doula is best described as a woman who is educated in the stages and phases of the birthing process and provides resources to the expecting parents so they can make educated decisions for their birth and baby. Birth doulas also provide physical, emotional and mental comfort measures support during the birthing process. A postpartum doula in home provides care for the mother, baby, partner and family after childbirth.

Birth doula responsibilities are:
• Have knowledge of the birthing process
• Provide educational resources to the mother and her partner so they can make educated decisions about their birth and their baby.
• Provide assistance in creating a birth game day plan.
• Educate the couple on how to advocate for their birth plan, options and rights.
• Know breathing, relaxation, movement and comfort measures that help the mother during labor on her birthing game day.
• Help coach the partner in being active with the birthing process with comfort measures, sleep, water, food and encouragement.
• Immediate postpartum support
• Follow up postpartum visit after birth to see if any other questions can be answered or provide resources.

WHY USE A DOULA?

There are great benefits to having a birth doula on your birth team.  Recent studies show that women that use a doula, along with her partner, throughout their labor and child birthing experience have a more positive birth experience and outcome. Here is a list of very impressive benefits:

• 60% reduction in cesareans using pain relief during labor
• 80% reduction in cesareans with non medicated labor
• 34% reduction in forceps or vacuum
• 60%  reduction in epidurals
• 9% reduction in pain medications
• 25% reduction in labor hours
• 31% reduction in synthetic oxytocin (pitocin)
• Breastfeeding at 6 weeks postpartum has increased
• 6 weeks postpartum mothers have higher self-esteem, less anxiety and less depression

WHAT A DOULA IS NOT!

As a birth doula there are some aspects we are not qualified to perform during pregnancy or labor:

• Do not perform clinical tasks.
• Do not perform vaginal examinations.
• Do not listen to baby”s heart beat.
• Do not take your blood pressure or temperature.
• Do not make decisions for you on what procedures you should or should not have.
• Do not read medical equipment and tell you what we think.
• Do not communicate to the medical staff in your place regarding matters where decisions must be made.
• Do not catch/deliver your baby.

Your midwife is over your medical case and has the expertise to perform the above medical tasks.

HOW TO HIRE A BIRTH DOULA?

Do your interviews! Interview birth doulas until you find the most perfect birth team fit.  The doula you recruit to your birth team needs to be like minded and supportive in your birth goals. This person will see your whole world inside and out at one the most vulnerable times of your life. Here are a few recruiting interview questions you can ask to help you get started:

How long have you been a doula?
How many births have you attended?
Are you certified?
What kind of doula training do you have?
Why did you become a doula?
What is your philosophy of birth?
What do you feel are your strongest skill sets as a doula?
Do you have a backup doula?
What are your fees and what is included?
How many clients do you take a month?
Are you available for my due date?
When will you join me during labor?
When do you go on call for my birth?
How do you work with me and my partner?

HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR YOUR DESIRED BIRTHING EXPERIENCE?

This is your body, your birth and your baby. YOU HAVE BIRTH RIGHTS! If you would like to know more about your birth rights and how to advocate for your desired birthing experience Check out my How to get the birth you want online course in my Train for Birth Academy.  I highly recommend this course to anyone who is birthing in a hospital environment!

ready to train for your birth?