Doulas



Doulas

Although doulas have been around for centuries across the globe, they are becoming more prevalent and essential in today’s modern birth settings. Still, many people are still unaware of doulas or their exact role in childbirth. The primary role of a doula is to provide women and their other labor support with continuous emotional, physical, and informational support throughout pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery.

Some doulas work with a woman during her entire pregnancy while others meet during the last trimester. In some situations, a doula may not meet the woman until labor has begun. Either way, a doula strives to learn as much about the woman as possible. Doulas want to know about past pregnancies/deliveries and how the current pregnancy is going. They learn what comfort measures and relaxation techniques will be helpful during labor and also what things/people/procedures might be a hindrance. Basically a doula wants to know how to make the childbirth experience as close to the woman’s vision as possible.

When labor begins, the doula meets the woman either at her home or at the hospital or birth center. A doula follows the woman’s lead, anticipating what she may need depending on her labor progress. The doula remains with the laboring woman continuously, using comfort measures and relaxation techniques to ease discomfort. She also uses calming and reassuring words to keep the woman focused. Having a doula doesn’t mean that you need to have a drug-free labor. If you choose to use some type of pain relief, a doula is with you every step of the way. When an epidural is used, a doula can be a vital tool. She will help the mother change positions to keep labor progressing and to get the baby in a favorable position. She guides the woman through decision-making during the labor by helping her find her voice, not speaking for her or telling her what to do.

During the delivery, a doula is there to help with the arduous task of pushing that little (or not so little) nugget out. She continues to provide support and encouragement. In the event that a cesarean birth is needed, many hospitals allow the doula into the delivery room either during the procedure or immediately afterward. Often cesarean deliveries are stressful and even scary for the birthing woman, so she needs any and all support available to her.

After the baby is born, a doula is there to make sure the mother and child are comfortably bonding. She is there to help establish breastfeeding and get the postpartum recovery off to a good start.

It is important to remember that a doula has no medical role in childbirth. She is there to support the mother and guide her through the amazing experience of childbirth.

So, you may be thinking, what’s wrong with my partner/mother/sister/best friend? The answer is NOTHING! A doula DOES NOT REPLACE the father or other labor companions.

A doula is there to enhance the support that others can give through her knowledge, experience, and skills in pain management. A doula brings a level of expertise to the labor along with a calming presence. Since a doula is most often not a relative of the laboring woman, she brings an outside perspective to the experience. Others providing labor support may find it very difficult to see the woman they love in pain, so doulas also provide calmness and reassurance to fellow labor companions. Labor is a very intense and emotional time, and it is nice to have someone there who is completely objective and can keep everyone focused during the unpredictable hours of childbirth. A doula remains with the woman throughout the entire labor, and can often give other support companions a much-needed break, especially during a long labor.


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