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What is a Doula?

Posted on February 28th, 2013 by | 6 views

‘Doula’ is a word from Ancient Greece meaning ‘female servant’ or ‘woman who serves.’ There are three types of doulas: birth doulas, postpartum doulas, and antepartum doulas.

Birth Doulas

A birth doula helps the mother to prepare for and plan her birth. It is a birth doula’s duty to wait on the birthing mother, offer words of encouragement, provide techniques to ease and assist labor, and ensure the birth follows as close to the mother’s birth plan as possible. She acts as mediator between the mother and others involved in the birth, whether she is birthing at a hospital, birth center, or at home. She remains with the mother throughout the entire labor process as her personal cheerleader, always having the mom’s best interests in mind, and remembering and reminding her of what she had envisioned for herself and her baby’s birth. In fact, studies have shown that having a doula present at birth can shorten labor time, decrease chances of having complications, and that babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily. Every woman could use a doula at her birth and after.

Postpartum Doulas

A postpartum doula offers help and support after the baby has been born. She provides information to the mother on caring for her baby, helps with breast feeding, recovery after birth, family adjustment, as well as light household chores and meal preparation. Having the support of a postpartum doula can decrease the likelihood of the mother suffering from postpartum emotional issues, and has been shown to increase self-confidence of the new mother. Overall, a postpartum doula can make the first few days or weeks with a new baby a lot less stressful for the entire family, mom and baby especially!

Antepartum Doulas

For mothers with high-risk pregnancies, who may or may not be on bed rest, or those who need extra help while pregnant due to certain medical conditions, an antepartum doula may be able to help. These doulas are trained specifically to be of assistance to pregnant women classified as ‘high-risk.’ They offer non-medical support such as help with errands, meals, house work, sibling care, physical, educational and emotional support, and bed rest assistance.

For a list of doulas who serve your area, visit our Directory of Doulas.

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