Ever wonder what a doula is and what they can do for you? The word doula is actually a Greek word that means women’s servant. A doula is a non-medical assistant in childbirth. Here’s how a doula can help you achieve a positive birth experience.
A doula's job depends largely on their training and what you need them to do. A doula offers assistance in one or all of the three phases of pregnancy. They can:
1. Offer support during prenatal care,
2. Offer support during childbirth
3. Be an essential support person after childbirth and during the postpartum period.
Prenatal Care Doula Assistance
Before childbirth, a doula can answer a myriad of questions a pregnant mother may have. She can also assist with nutrition guidelines and offer assistance when it comes to preparing for the actual childbirth. She may also assist the midwife with any examinations. If an expectant mother is dealing with a difficult pregnancy or is assigned to bed rest, an Antepartum Doula can provide emotional and physical support.
Depending on the level of training a doula has, she may attend your home labor, drive you to the hospital, and attend your birth at the hospital or birthing center.
Her primary job will be to make sure the birthing experience is as positive as possible. She may offer massage, assist with pain-relieving techniques like deep breathing exercises and she can also help facilitate the communication between husband or partner and wife. She can be invaluable for keeping everyone calm, cool, and collected.
She’s the mother’s and the father’s advocate during the labor and delivery process.
A postpartum doula can begin immediately after delivery and she can assist with the breastfeeding process, which can be a real challenge for many new mothers.
Postpartum doulas also facilitate the recovery period and can visit a new mother in her home. She can offer newborn care assistance and advice and in some cases, help the mother manage the household by helping with chores and tasks. Additionally, postpartum doulas can be essential for recognizing and helping mothers through postpartum depression.
Where to Go to Find a Doula
If you’re interested in hiring a doula to help with any stage of your pregnancy you can visit americanpregnancy.org and search for a doula in your area. Certification is not required by law but it is available. When dealing with your health and happiness, certification is generally a good idea. You can also visit DONA, Doulas of North America to find a certified doula near you. When hiring a doula, be sure to hire one who is knowledgeable and skilled in the stage of pregnancy you need her for. Ask about training and fees, and make sure she’s available when you need her.
Doulas offer expectant mothers the comfort and convenience they need at this important time in their lives. They’re someone you can rely on to share information, support you emotionally and physically, and to help you manage your upcoming and new responsibilities. While they’re not really a “woman’s servant,” they truly are valued and a wonderful way to enhance the birth experience.