WHAT IS A BIRTH DOULA?
The Greek word “doula” means woman caregiver. We now use the word to describe a trained and experienced labour companion who provides the woman and her husband/partner continuous emotional support, physical comfort and assistance in obtaining information before, during and just after childbirth.
WHAT DOES A DOULA DO?
A Birth Doula...
…recognizes birth as a key life experience that the mother will remember
all her life…
…understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman
…assists the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their
plans for the birth…
…stays by the side of the labouring woman throughout the entire labour…
…provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective
viewpoint, and assistance to the woman in getting the information she needs
to make healthy decisions…
…facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner, and
clinical care providers…
…perceives her role as one who nurtures and protects the woman’s memory
of her birth experience.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DOULA AND A MIDWIFE?
Physicians, midwives and nurses are responsible for monitoring labor, assessing the medical condition of the mother and baby and treating complications when they arise; but birth is also an emotional and spiritual experience with long-term impact on a woman's personal wellbeing. A doula is constantly aware that the mother and her partner will remember this experience throughout their lives. By mothering the mother during birth, the doula supports the parents in having a positive and memorable birth experience.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE HUSBAND/PARTNER?
When it comes to pregnancy, birth, and parenting, today's father may want to share everything with his partner. He may want to be actively involved; ease his partner’s labor pain, welcome his baby at the moment of birth, and help care for his newborn at home. A birth doula can help a father experience this special time with confidence.
Today, a father's participation in birth preparation classes or his presence at prenatal visits and in the birth suite is a familiar occurrence. Yet, we sometimes forget that the expectations of his role as a labor coach may be difficult to fulfill.
The father-to-be is expected, among other things, to become familiar with the process and language of birth, to understand medical procedures and hospital protocols and to advocate for his partner in an environment and culture he may be unfamiliar with.
HOW DOES A DOULA WORK WITH THE HUSBAND/PARTNER?
A Birth Doula...
…can facilitate communication between the birthing woman, her partner
and medical care providers in order to help both parents make informed
…recognizes that at times a father may not understand a woman’s instinctive
behavior during birth and may react anxiously to what a doula knows to be
the normal process of birth. A doula can assist his understanding…
…will encourage the father to share in the birth at a level in which he feels
…can use her skills and knowledge to help the partner feel more relaxed.
If the father wants to provide physical comfort, such as back massage and
change of positions, and help his partner to stay focused during contractions,
the doula can provide that guidance and make suggestions for what may
The father's presence and loving support in birth is comforting and reassuring.
The love he shares with the mother and his child and his need to nurture and protect his family are priceless gifts that only he can provide. With her partner
and a doula at birth, a mother can have the best of both worlds - her partner’s loving care and attention and the doula's expertise and guidance throughout
the birth process.