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What is a Doula

What is a Doula?

Doula (pronounced “doola”) is a Greek word meaning “woman servant or caregiver.”

In modern times it refers to an experienced woman who offers emotional and practical support to a woman, couple or family before, during and after childbirth.

A doula believes in “mothering the mother” – enabling a woman to have the most satisfying and empowered time that she can during pregnancy, birth and the early days as a new mum.  This type of support also helps the whole family to relax and enjoy the experience.

What do we really do, though?

All sorts of things! From rubbing backs to taking your dog for a walk, to helping you figure out if that’s really your mucus plug or not (hint: don’t take it to the doctors, but you can send us a picture if you really want!)  During labour we remind you to eat and drink, and of course pee. We tell you you’re doing great and that you have got this and you really ‘can do this’. We breathe with you, moan with you, and may suggest you try a new position (about 20 times even when you are exhausted and really don’t want to move again).

We’re there to help you and your partner make decisions about your birth, whether your birth is an un-medicated one at home or a scheduled Caesarean in the hospital. We’re there in the months prior to help answer your questions about the process and explore options available – from kinds of pain relief and interventions to types of births.

What we don’t do are medical tasks like listening to a baby’s heartbeat or doing internal examinations. There are amazing doctors, nurses, midwives, who are there to provide clinical care to you and your baby in a hospital, home, clinic, or office, Doulas are there to cater to your heart, mind, and soul! (And yeah, sometimes your back, forehead and shoulders, too…)

Doulas are there to cater to your heart, mind and soul!

Doulas are an amazing source of information, suggestions, and resources.  A walking talking “What to Expect when Expecting” only 100% times better and more up-to-date.  Doulas don’t judge you for eating (or not eating) your placenta, for getting (or not getting) an epidural, or anything else you may choose. Your doula is there to support you (and your partner), no matter what options you choose for your birth or what unexpected turns labour make take.

We recommend this article for an even more comprehensive list of What a Doula Does.

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Doula and Mom

A doula forms a bond with the pregnant mom and from the start of their relationship works to gain her trust, nurture her instincts and help her to navigate her feelings about pregnancy, birth and motherhood. While the doula provides information on modern birth options and practices and other practical information, as a key member of the birth team she also provides friendship, support and an open ear for the mother-to-be.  A doula is key in the early weeks in supporting a new mother on this life changing journey, both practically and emotionally.

Doula and Dad

Doulas love Dads! A common fear from fathers-to-be is that a doula will replace them during the delivery process. This isn’t true! A doula is there to support Dad too. From prenatal education, to facing the changes brought by fatherhood, to allowing him time for a break during labour or offering him reassurance as he assists his partner during birth – doulas and dads work together to bring love, support and calm to the birthing mom and to ensure dad has his best possible birth experience too!

This article provides great information on Doulas & Dads, as does this one.

Doula and Medical Staff

A doula is a part of your birth team, and while she may be up-to-date and experienced with various modern medical procedures and practices related to birth, she isn’t a medical professional. She can remind you of choices you’ve expressed wanting to make prior to labour when interventions or medical assistance is suggested.  She cannot decide for you whether or not to accept a treatment, or talk to your care team on your behalf.  She maintains a good, mutually respectful, relationship with your medical staff so that everyone in the room can focus on you and your growing family – allowing you the best chance at the birth you envisioned.

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