The world of birth is nothing if not a mish-mosh of interesting words that you have likely never heard, or never given much time to, before; placenta, oxytocin, round ligaments, amniotic, APGAR…and on and on! When I am introduced to someone and they ask me about what I do, I answer that I support women and families in their journey of pregnancy, labor & birth and breastfeeding as a doula and lactation education counselor. And I find that I am greeted with a peculiar expression followed by the question, “what is a doula???”
I thought it appropriate to offer a bit of insight and guidance taken directly from the DONA (Doula’s of North America) website to define this funny sounding word:
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; or who provides emotional and practical support
during the postpartum period.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with
fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.
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 decision
*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
And there you have it! Hope this clears it up and look forward to future episodes where we dive deeper into how a doula can benefit you!