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What is a Doula?
A doula is a trained and certified professional who supports a pregnant person during pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal.
A doula is not a medical professional and does not deliver babies. Rather, she provides emotional, social and physical support to the labouring person.
Doulas often work alongside midwives to provide support at a hospital, birthing centre or during a home delivery.
They can play the role of advocating on their client’s behalf to ensure a safe and dignified delivery that is in the best interest of the birthing person and their baby.
Types of Doulas and What Do They Do?
There are different types of doulas to help you through your birthing journey, these include antepartum doula, birth doula, and postpartum doula.
Antepartum doulas provide emotional, mental and physical support to pregnant people before the birth of their baby. They often support people who have high-risk pregnancies, are in vulnerable social situations or may be on bed rest.
What do Antepartum Doulas Do?
In addition to the emotional and physical support they provide, antepartum doulas help with daily household tasks, meal preparation, assisting in organising the baby’s nursery and providing information.
A birth doula provides support during labour and delivery. They provide emotional and physical support, they work with the expectant person in planning their birth and delivery.
What do Birth Doulas Do?
As one of the most commonly used doulas, birth doulas may begin their service months before your delivery. They work with the expectant parents on their birth plans and provide the necessary information, physical support before and during labour, and emotional and social support before and during labour.
Birth doulas are essential to maintaining a safe, stress-free and relaxing environment that is optimal for delivery. They are often advocates for the birthing person and are good at communicating their client’s needs and wishes to medical professionals.
Postpartum doulas provide support to the mother and family after the birth of a child. The postpartum period can be especially challenging for new parents as they adjust to their new roles.
During this period, they provide parents with emotional, physical, mental and nutritional support.
What do Postpartum Doulas Do?
Postpartum doulas’ support comes after the birth of the baby. They provide the type of hands-on support that helps new parents through those early stages of parenthood.
Some of what they do may include:
- breastfeeding support
- lactation instructions
- self and hygiene care
- support with infant care
- meal preparation
- household assistance
- running errands and providing informational support
How to find a Doula?
Some doulas work with midwives and may be part of the packaged services provided by the midwife. Others may be part of the package that is offered to you by a birthing centre.
You can search for your doula through organisations that train and certify them.
Some people have found their doulas through referrals from other mothers who have hired those doulas before through support groups or on Facebook.
How you find your doula is up to you. However, make sure that your doula is trained and certified, that you get to know your doula well and that you are comfortable with your choice.
You can ensure that you find the right doula for you by doing your research and asking the right questions.
Questions to Ask Your Doula
Once you’ve found a doula, you want to make sure that you get to know the person who will be with you throughout one of the most vulnerable and transformative times of your life.
Some important questions to ask your potential doula are about:
- Training and certification
- Experience in working with different ethnic groups
- Training and experience in maternal mental health
- Philosophy on birth and delivery
- Types of services that are provided
- Cost of services
Does a doula sound like the right choice for you?