What is a Birth Doula?
The Greek word “doula” means woman caregiver. We now use the word to describe a trained and experienced labour and birth companion who provides a woman and her partner with continuous emotional support, physical comfort and assistance in obtaining information before, during and after childbirth.
What does a Birth Doula do?
A Birth Doula recognizes birth as a key life experience that the mother will remember all her life. While understanding the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labour she assists the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their plans for the birth. The doula stays by the side of the woman throughout the entire labour in order to: provide emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint. With the goal of assisting the woman in getting the information she needs to make healthy decisions the doula facilitates communication between the labouring woman, her partner, and clinical care providers.
An insightful doula perceives her role as one who nurtures and protects the space by looking after the woman and those in the room who are closest to her.
What is the difference between a Birth Doula and a Midwife?
Midwives are licensed medical professionals who attend births at home, in the hospital or birth centre. They are responsible for the health of you and your child in pregnancy, childbirth and postnatally. Doulas are not medical professionals. Doulas provide emotional and physical support during pregnancy and birth. Without the medical responsibility the doula has the time to focus solely on the labouring mother and her partner. Birth is an emotional and spiritual experience with a long-term impact on a woman’s wellbeing. Midwives and doulas often have the same philosophy relating to birth, and can work together in supporting you as you work to bring your child into the world.
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 family in having a positive and memorable birth experience.
How does a Birth Doula work with the partner?
A doula will encourage the partner to share in the birth at the level he or she feels comfortable. The doula’s skills and knowledge often help the partner feel more relaxed. If the partner wants to provide physical comfort, such as a back massage or change of position, or to help the mother stay focused during contractions, the doula can provide that guidance and make suggestions for what may work best.
Inevitably, the partner will need to take a break, this is a marathon for the mother of course but it is also a marathon for the partner (a different kind of marathon but a marathon none the less). The birth doula will be there so the mother is still fully supported while the partner is out of the room.
The partner’s presence and loving support in this monumental event is comforting and reassuring. The love he or she shares with the mother and the child and the desire to protect this family are priceless gifts that only they can provide. Having both a partner and a doula at the birth, a mother can have the best of both worlds - her partner’s loving care & attention and the doula’s expertise and guidance throughout the birth process.
Can you help with breastfeeding?
I will be by your side to help support you with the initial latch and a second latch before I depart a few hours after the birth. I will assist you in recognizing the baby’s cues that he/she is hungry and how to assess if the baby is latched well and swallowing breast milk.
If you would like additional breastfeeding support, let's chat about Postpartum Doula support.
Do you provide support at home after the birth?
I am available to you by email and phone for the first week after the baby is born. I can answer your questions and provide suggestions and if you wish I can come to the house.
Providing in home support after the birth of your baby is the role of a Postpartum Doula or Overnight Doula, depending on your specific needs. I am a DONA Trained Postpartum Doula and I am definitely open to talking about how I can best serve you in this role.