What is a Doula?
doula | ˈduːlə | noun: a woman who gives support, help, and advice to another woman during pregnancy and during and after the birth: from admission through delivery, a doula stayed at her assigned patient's side.
A doula - also known as a birthing partner - is said to believe in “mothering the mother”, she enables a woman to have the most satisfying and empowered journey possible during pregnancy, birth and the early days as a new mother. A doula provides a private and intimate female health service that is friendly, family-like and very responsible.
As child birth is becoming increasingly medicalised, there is far less continuity of care postnatally. A doula serves as a valuable support during the antenatal period and through the birth itself, enabling parents to make informed choices about their care, helping to signpost relevant research-based information and being a reassuring presence. This type of support helps not only the mother, but also the whole family to relax, adapt to and enjoy the process of matrescence. Doulas also provide emotional support throughout the rollercoaster that is pregnancy, helping to create a safe and non-judgmental environment for expecting mothers to comfortably move through their emotions, fears, excitement and all the rest.
Postpartum doulas are individuals who provide emotional and physical support to new mothers and families, focusing primarily on the first eight weeks after delivery. With the intention of helping the new mother to thrive, postpartum doulas tune in to the specific needs of the mothers they're 'there', not in the clinical sense, but in more in a psycho-educational sense. Postnatally, she is able to provide the support that women used to expect of their families and community in times gone by.
Feeding advice: Most postpartum can help with basic breastfeeding support, if you choose to breastfeed. They can also signal when a lactation consultant referral is needed. If you’re not breastfeeding they can help show you how to bottle-feed and figure out what formula might be best.
The mother’s physical healing process: The physiological, biological, emotional, spiritual - and everything in between - changes that happen to women after giving birth can be exceptionally overwhelming. Doulas are basically your support partner for all things related to birth.
Nutrition: Doulas generally have nutritional knowledge for pregnancy and beyond. Some even have a culinary background and are happy to make nourishing food that can help promote healing in the body.It’s important to note that doulas typically don’t have medical degrees, but a good one will know when to call the doctor. A doula can also provide over-the-counter or natural remedies to help accelerate the healing process or make the mother more comfortable in the interim.