The word ‘doula’ comes from ancient Greece, it means “a woman’s caregiver’. This person (most likely she) was a midwife, a herbalist, a masseuse, a psychotherapist – a help in every possible way!
In modern world a doula is a profession to support pregnant women, new mothers and their partners while pregnancy, birth and beyond.
Where Doulas are getting certified?
There are several international organizations like DONA, CBI, BAI, Maternity Wise Institute, ICEA… All this schools has high standards and comprehensive courses. I gain my certification with “Birth Arts International”, it took me almost 2 years to accomplish theory and practical training. Some courses take less time to complete.
So what exactly Doulas do?
All doulas have different background and additional profession! That is why each doula is unique and offer variety of services! But each doula definitely does:
Prepare pregnant woman for labor: advice about diet, exercises, self massage techniques.
Provide emotional, physical and informational support during labor and birth to a woman and her family.
Give all the information about childbirth that are based on evidences.
Teach pregnant woman techniques for natural pain relief if needed.
Teach partner to give correct support to woman in labor. Yes, very often people don’t know how to approach and what to say to a woman while she gives birth!
Give partner a chance to take a break while long process of labor.
Helps to make right and informed decisions.
Helps to define and keep the birth a woman wish.
What Doulas might do?
As I mentioned before, some doulas are trained in other fields that can give more benefits to your birth experience. Here are some examples of what a doula can be as well:
HypnoBirthing or Calm Birth practitioners.
Pre-natal and post-natal yoga/pilates or fitness instructors.
Acupuncturist or herbalists.
Massage and reflexology therapists.
Sleep training consultant.
Infant massage practitioner
What Doulas do not do?
There are a few important services that doula do not offer as she or he is not a medical trained specialist:
Speak on behalf of woman or her partner with doctors or hospital stuff.
Make decisions instead of woman or her partner.
Provides medical support, exams, diagnosis.
Catch baby, act like a midwife or nurse.
Why do I need a doula in my birth?
There are many studies showing that the presence of doula in birth can shorten labor time, reduce rate of C-section, epidural and Pitocin, increase positive birth outcomes. You can find more information here.
Do I need a doula if I am having an epidural or planed caesarean?
Natural or medicated, C-section or vaginal delivery – it’s all birth of your child! It is a special moment, a transformation, an opening, vulnerability, uncertainty. Having a person who can explain you details of medical procedures or surgery, show you options sometimes you don’t know you have can be extremely helpful. My main job is to support: while vaginal delivery is a lot about physical help, grounding touch, encouraging words, caesarean delivery is more about emotional, informational support and help with breastfeeding and recovery.
What else to know about having a doula?
- You and your partner have to match with your doula: you both have to feel comfortable with her presence.
- If you live far away and do not have doulas in your town, you always can get distance doula – online connection is also helpful and gives you reassurance with all questions you might have!
- Sometimes I get hired as a doula for partner of pregnant woman! And this is totally normal for future fathers to be overwhelmed, stressed or even scared about labor and beyond as well as future mother. So please do not hesitate to hire a doula as a partner support!