What is a doula?
(Medicine/Gynaecology & Obstetrics) a woman who is trained to provide support to women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of time following the birth
[from Greek doule female slave]
What Are a Doula's Qualifications?
Doulas Should be Hired Early in the Prenatal PeriodDoulas realize the importance of establishing a relationship with clients prior to attending their birth. This is as very vulnerable time for a woman, and trust is of the most importance. It is crucial to learn the family’s history, mom's preferences and develop a comfortable friendship. Doulas often offer prenatal classes to their clients as part of the doula service. Once a client explains her ideal birth, the doula can begin working towards that goal during the prenatal meetings. Doulas may teach clients birthing and laboring positions or relaxing techniques that can be practiced between meetings. A well-prepared client is empowered and confident as the "birth day" approaches. The more comfortable the clients are with the doula, the more at ease they will be at the birth. The prenatal investment is paramount to a tranquil birth.
"My advice to every dad, 'Get yourself a doula'!" Johnathan F.
Partners frequently grasp for ways to offer support and comfort to their soul mates. A doula helps to guide the process. The doula also offers a second pair of hands for relaxation and massage as well as relief for a partner that may need a few moments to refocus. Sometimes couples are more comfortable with the doula taking on a larger role in the production. I have been at births where I have been asked to perform a monologue only calling in extras during specific scenes. The couples had a well-thought out plan that involved the doula coaching and comforting Mom, providing direction and soothing measures. Dad was free to record the event, contact relatives and whisper in his wife's ear. A doula is a servant, performing any task that makes the birth more comfortable, enjoyable and memorable for her clients.
There is no right or wrong way for the doula to assist, as long as she is working within her scope. Doulas understand that the birth and the decisions are at the discretion of their clients, they just serve to make the transition form womanhood to motherhood as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
Let a Doula Be Your EpiduralThere are far more benefits to having a doula at a birth than there are to having an epidural--yet only one of these are talked about at hospitals, in moms groups or in the main stream media. That needs to change! Let's remind moms that they don't need to--nor should they--enter this time alone or unprepared. Moms can take birth back, and doulas can help.
Author's Note: I have been in the perinatal field for over a dozen years. Originally, I entered the field as a Lactation Consultant. Many of my breastfeeding clients had issues that originated in the hospital. I quickly realized I wanted to spend a more time in the area of prevention to avoid the numerous postpartum visits where I spent days, sometime even weeks fixing what could have been avoided in the first place.
More information about Christy Jo's Doula Services or Doula Connect (a service that matches clients with doulas) can be found on her website