What is a birth doula?
A birth doula is a person trained and experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth.
What is a postpartum doula?
What a postpartum doula does changes from day to day, as the needs of the family change. Postpartum doulas do whatever a mother needs to best enjoy and care for her new baby. A large part of their role is education. They share information about baby care with parents, as well as teach siblings and partners to “mother the mother.” They assist with breastfeeding education. Postpartum doulas also make sure the mother is fed, well hydrated and comfortable.
What effects does the presence of a doula have on birth outcomes? How about on the mother? What about the presence of the baby?
Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth:
tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction
reduces the requests for pain medication and epidurals, as well as the incidence of cesareans
When a doula is present during and after childbirth, women report greater satisfaction with their birth experience, make more positive assessments of their babies, have fewer cesareans and requests for medical intervention, and less postpartum depression.
Studies have shown that babies born with doulas present tend to have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions to special care nurseries, breastfeed more easily and have more affectionate mothers in the postpartum period.
Will a doula make my partner feel unnecessary?
No, a doula is supportive to both the mother and her partner, and plays a crucial role in helping a partner become involved in the birth to the extent that he/she feels comfortable.
Does a doula take the place of hospital staff?
No. Doulas do not replace nurses or other medical staff. Doulas do not perform clinical or medical tasks such as taking blood pressure or temperature, monitoring fetal heart rate, or providing postpartum clinical care. They are there to comfort and support the mother and to enhance communication between the mother and medical professionals.
How does a postpartum doula work with a mother's partner?
A doula respects the partner’s role and input, and teaches concrete skills that will help the partner nurture the baby and mother. The doula will share evidence-based information with the partner that shows how his or her role in the early weeks will have a dramatic positive effect on the family.
How does a postpartum doula nurture the parents into their roles?
Self-confidence has a tremendous impact on a person’s ability to approach any task, and parenting is no different. DONA International doulas are taught to always consider parents’ feelings and always build confidence whenever possible. Doulas accomplish this through praise, acceptance and a non-judgmental approach. In addition, the doula will teach parents strategies and skills that will improve their ability to bond with their babies. A calm baby who is growing well will help parents to feel more confident in their skills.