The Doula's Role
A doula (pronounced doolar) is a woman who physically and emotionally supports women in their transition through pregnancy into motherhood. A birth doula provides resources, education, advocacy and support to pregnant women and their families in preparation for and during childbirth guiding and mentoring you through the process. A postpartum doula assists families bringing home a new baby after birth or following adoption.
To be a doula is to be in a privileged position. It requires building relationships involving the deepest of trust. Doulas are trusted for their knowledge, experience, skill, and sensitivity they share with you at a time you are most vulnerable. Their sound knowledge of birth, the hospital system, and the unique needs of the couple they are caring for, making them an invaluable addition to your childbirth support team.
There have been 26 randomised trials that tested the effects of continuous labour support on more than 15,000 people giving birth. Outcome:
- More likely to have a normal vaginal birth
- Less likely to have pain medication
- Less likely to have negative feelings about childbirth
- Labours are shorter and babies have fewer complications
The best results occurred when the continuous support was provided by a trained doula - someone who was not a staff member at the hospital and not part of the birthing woman's social network.
But what does this look and feel like?
- She is a great listener
- She is respectful and values your privacy
- She doesn’t impose her own thoughts or beliefs on you
- She will be the first person you want to call when you have a problem
- She will share your challenges and emotions but know when to step back and give you space
- She will help you identify strategies and skills that resonate with you
- She will help you dig deep to understand and prepare for the experiences to come
- She will nurture and support you and your partner if you feel overwhelmed or discouraged
- She will help you track and work with the intensity of your birthing sensations
- She knows what normal birth looks and feels like.
- She will drop everything she is doing to come to you during labour
- She will be with you at home in labour and go to the hospital with you
- She will stay with you for your entire labour (not leaving at the end of a shift)
- She has no paperwork. You, and your partner are her only focus
- She is respectful of care providers and works positively with them as part of your team
- She will guide you through your first feeding experience
- She will prepare you for the excitement and chaos of life with your newborn But most of all she will believe in you, be your greatest encourager and share your challenges and joys on this exciting journey.