Doula? What is That?
While some women have heard the term doula, they may not be sure exactly what that person does or how that person can help them. A birth doula provides support during labor and delivery of a baby. A postpartum doula helps the new mother with emotional and physical issues as she recovers from childbirth. She also offers information on infant feeding techniques and helps a family adjust to life with a new baby. The main goal of both doulas is to provide the mother and her spouse with support, encouragement and advice.
What does a doula do?
Birth Doula: The birth doula knows that this is a life-changing event in the woman’s life. Usually, a woman meets with the doula months before she goes into labor. During the meeting, the doula will talk to the woman about her desires and goals for labor and delivery. During labor, she will stay with the mother-to-be the entire time. She may assist in providing emotional support and helping the woman follow through with her birth plan. The birth doula does not provide medical assistance during labor, but she is knowledgeable on pain relief techniques and will provide support to the woman whether she is having a natural or medicated birth. She also acts as an advocate for the mother and communicates requests between the woman, her spouse and staff at the birthing facility.
Postpartum Doula: The postpartum doula offers support and education during the time after bringing a baby home from the birthing center or hospital. She will teach the mother how to feed the baby and may educate her on breastfeeding and proper latching techniques. She also helps the entire family adjust to life with a new baby and may help assist with household chores or meals.
Does a doula cause the father to be left out?
The doula’s role is not to overtake that of the woman’s spouse. She is there to help both of the parents-to-be to have a happy and enjoyable labor. During labor, she can offer comfort to the woman’s spouse by providing support and reassurance. She can also instruct the father-to-be on how to support his partner during labor and delivery.
Are there benefits to hiring a doula?
Numerous studies have shown that when a doula is present, the woman has a shorter labor and less chance of complications. Having a doula also helps women have greater success with breastfeeding and reduces the risk of postpartum depression. As someone who provides support, information and encouragement, the doula helps both parents to have positive feelings regarding the childbirth experience.
How do you hire a doula?
Start by looking for a doula through DONA International. They provide certification and education to individuals who would like to become doulas. After you select a few in your area, call each one and set up a meeting in person. Consider asking the doula where she received training, what certifications she holds and what her opinion on childbirth is. Discuss fees, availability and the types of services that she offers. The doula will be present during a joyful, but also overwhelming time of your life, so you should find someone who is caring, knowledgeable and who respects your wishes and opinions.
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