The word ‘doula’ means a ‘woman-servant.’ You may hear the term “mothering the mother” and that essentially is what a doula does. A doula is a woman who is trained to assist another woman during childbirth and who may provide support to the family after the baby is born (this would be considered a postpartum doula). A birth doula is a personal trainer for birth and cannot guarantee any particular outcome when it comes to childbirth, but there are evidence based studies that have shown the benefits of having a doula. A few of these benefits include a shorter labor, decrease use of epidurals and other interventions and an overall higher satisfaction.
As your doula I:
Use massage and touch to relieve any anxiety and stress in labor.
Know that having a child is one of those life experiences that the woman will never forget.
Understand and trust the emotional needs of a woman in labor.
Help relieve the fear around birth, which will allow for a more relaxed and stress free birth.
Offer resources and evidence-based research to help educate the woman and her partner with the information needed to make the best informed decisions.
Offer continuous physical comfort and emotional encouragement throughout the birth experience.
Perceives her role as one who nurtures and protects the woman’s memory of her birth experience.
Act as a liaison between the birthing woman, her partner and the medical staff to facilitate clear communication.
Am a non judgmental support person by respecting the birthing woman’s choices.
As your doula I do not:
Perform clinical tasks, such as fetal heart checks, vaginal exams, blood pressure, etc.
Replace the partner during labor; whos job is to love and support their partner. I support and encourage the partner, and enhance the support style and intimacy you both need by getting the hospital staff to leave the room for a while, so that you both can have some time to yourselves without distractions.
Leave the birthing woman and her partner during labor and birth, unless asked.
Make decisions for the birthing woman and her partner, but will instead help you get the information necessary to make an informed decision.
Speak to the medical staff for you regarding matters where decisions are being made. I will discuss your concerns with you and suggest options, but you or your partner will have the voice and say in the matter.
If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.
-John H. Kennel