The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek word meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth (birth doula) or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period (postpartum doula).
Studies have shown that, when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications and babies are healthier and breastfeed more easily.
Birth Doulas work with expectant mothers and families in the days and weeks leading up to the birth of a new child. They act as coaches for mothers and their birth partners through labor and continue to provide support shortly after birth.
You can expect a birth doula to…
- Recognize birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life;
- Understand the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor;
- Assist the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth;
- Stay with the woman throughout the labor;
- Provide emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions;
- Facilitate communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers;
- Perceive her role as nurturing and protecting the woman’s memory of the birth experience;
- Allow the woman’s partner to participate at his/her comfort level.
A birth doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials CD(DONA).
Research evidence shows that the quality services of a postpartum doula can ease the transition that comes with the addition of a baby to a family, improve parental satisfaction and reduce the risk of mood disorders.
Postpartum doulas work with mothers and families during the postpartum period, nurturing them into their new roles and helping them welcome their new family member.
You can expect your postpartum doula to…
- Offer education, companionship and nonjudgmental support during the postpartum fourth trimester;
- Assist with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tidying;
- Offer evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents and makes appropriate referrals when necessary.
A postpartum doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials PCD(DONA).
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