What are Doulas?
A doula (/ˈduːlə/, also known as a labour coach and originating from the Ancient Greek word δούλη meaning female slave), is a nonmedical person who assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth, as well as her partner and/or family, by providing physical assistance, and emotional support. The provision of continuous support during labour by doulas (as well as nurses, family, or friends) is associated with improved maternal and fetal health and a variety of other benefits.
Continuous support during labour provided by doulas (along with variety of groups such as nurses, midwives, other hospital staff, partners, family or friends) have been associated with improved outcomes for both mothers and children. There is research to support the beneficial effects of doulas on both maternal and newborn or infant health, including shorter delivery, fewer caesarean sections and complications, the use of fewer medications and fetal extraction tools, improved Apgar scores, less time in neonatal intensive care units, positive psychological benefits for mothers, more satisfying birth experiences, and increased breastfeeding. Cross-country research on the effects of doulas on child birth and postnatal care is complicated by the variety of settings, cultures and medical systems of individual countries and characteristics of patients. These benefits appear to be contingent on the doula providing continuous rather than intermittent assistance, have some medical training and on the specific social and cultural setting within which their services are provided. This may be due to doulas providing intermittent assistance being experienced midwives who focused less on social support and more on medical aspects of delivery. Women with less education, lower incomes, less preparation for childbirth and those lacking social support may experience greater benefits from doula care than other groups. -Wikipedia
Birth Doula Vs. Postpartum Doula
A Birth Doula
- 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
A birth doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials CD(DONA).
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.
A Postpartum Doula
- 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
A postpartum doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials PCD(DONA).
*Pulled from DONA.org