Doula - General Information

Women have complex needs during childbirth. In addition to the safety of modern obstetrical care, and the love and companionship provided by their partners, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. They need individualised care based on their circumstances and preferences. The role of the birth doula encompasses the non-clinical aspects of care during childbirth.

 

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What is a doula?

A doula is a trained professional, usually a mother herself who provides emotional, physical and informational support to a pregnant woman before, during and shortly after childbirth.  Doulas are not medical professionals! While they have good knowledge and awareness of the birth process, a doula does not support a mother in a medical role. Medical care is the responsibility of medical professionals such as doctors, midwives or nurses. The doula's purpose is to help women have a memorable and empowering birthing experience and to offer continuous support during labour.

A doula helps the mother-to-be to achieve the birth she hopes for, no matter if it's a birth with or without drugs or even a c-section.

This makes a doula a valuable addition to the birth team.

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What does a doula do?

 

  • she helps you create a written birth plan and find evidence based information to do so

  • she suggests different birthing positions and relaxing techniques such as breathing or massage to help ease the pain and facilitate a smoother and more effective labour

  • she may talk you through emotional blockages which may come up during labour

  • she will offer continuous support during labour so you are never left alone

  • she will help to create an environment you can feel safe in

  • she will help you to speak up for yourself which means she will make sure your voice is heard

  • she will deal with little details which hospital staff unfortunately do not always have time for (even if they really would like to)

  • she will be aware of things you or your partner might not pick up on and will inform and support you accordingly

  • with her passion and caring heart, she is able to remain calm and focused when things do not go according to the couples birth plan. In those situations, a doula can think clearly. She will see the pros and cons, she might translate medical vocabulary from the hospital staff you don't understand and then relay them to the couple so they can make their own decision.

  • before and after labour, she will refer you to the appropriate resources in the community if your needs go beyond her scope 

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What does a doula NOT do?

  • she does NOT perform any medical tasks such as taking the blood pressure or monitoring CTG's

  • she will NOT make any decision for you, but she will help you find information to make your own decision

  • she will NOT advocate for you or challenge any medical staff, but will help you to advocate for yourself

  • she will NOT take over the partners role if he doesn't want to

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What are the benefits of having a doula?

Different studies have documented the following impressive benefits of having a doula present during labour:

  • less pain-relief medication was used

  • labour was shorter

  • there is a lower risk of c-section or other interventions like the use of a forceps or vacuums

  • better outcome for babies which means they are less stressed after birth and have a better Apgar Score

  • increased rates of breastfeeding

  • higher self-esteem of mother and father

  • less anxiety and less depression 6 weeks postpartum

In general the combination of support by medical trained personal and a certified labour doula has the ability to improve health outcomes and reduce risks for mothers and their babies.

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What about the father's (birth partner's) role when using a doula?

A doula will never take over the role of the husband. She will rather support and reinforce him by giving ideas and encouraging him.

The doula will step in when the father needs a break to eat, sleep or go to the toilet. Some partners prefer to enjoy the delivery without having to stand in as the labour coach.

Partners report feeling more enthusiastic when a doula was present and they believe their contribution to the labour and birth was meaningful and helpful. But not only the fathers reported higher levels of satisfaction, also the mothers felt more satisfied with their partners role at birth too.​

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Are doulas only useful if planning a natural unmedicated birth?

 

Doulas support you not matter what kind of birth you choose. Even if you are having a planned medicated birth like an induction or if you are planning for an epidural, the doula will support you emotionally and physically and help you deal with potential side effects.

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What will the service of a doula look like?

Typically you will contact your doula by email or phone and then meet with her for a meet and great.
During this meeting, both sides can find out if they are comfortable with each other. Not only the couple, but also the doula.

Each doula has different packages and prices according to her experience, knowledge, and other qualifications she has.

But all doulas will

  1. meet with you any time before labour starts 

  • to sign a contract

  • to discuss or help you set up a birth plan

  • to talk about previous birthing experiences

  • to find out about your wishes and what kind of support you are looking for

   2. will be on call before and after your due date 

   3. support you during labour at the hospital

   4. meet or follow up by phone after birth

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What is the difference between a doula and a doctor, nurse or midwife

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

More information can be found under: 
www.bellybelly.com.au 

www..dona.org -The Doula Organisation of North America