In case you missed the description above, a doula is a non-medical professional who is trained to provide evidence based information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother and her family before, during, and after childbirth. But what does that really mean? While that basis of doula service is fairly standard, the details of what is offered to fulfill those professional standards can differ from doula to doula. Lets start by breaking down the description.Non-Medical Support- a doula does not take the place of a Doctor or Midwife. Medical support and advice is outside the scope of what a doula should be offering you. Additionally, the doula is not your personal vocal advocate in the birthing room, that’s what your partner is for. A doula should be empowering mom to make her own decisions and then to verbalize those decisions to her partner and her medical staff (or empowering the couple to make decisions together, which they together or individually relay to their medical staff).Provide Evidence Based Information- one big role a doula typically fills is the creation of a birth plan. Decisions made in the creation of your birth plan should not only honor what you and your partner want, but should also be based on scientific evidence. While a doula will not provide medical advice, they should provide evidence based scientific information to help you and your partner make educated decisions about your birth plan and medical care. If there are any specific questions you have regarding birthing or baby specifics the doula should be able to direct you to the best source of legitimate information to assist you in answering your question. For example, if you are concerned about lactation support they should have contact information for your local LLL (La Leche League).Emotional Support- Ina May Gaskin once said ‘if a woman doesn’t look like a Goddess during childbirth, someone isn’t treating her right.’ This is exactly what a doula is there to help with. A doula should continually provide non-judgmental, positive, safe, and loving support throughout all of your work together. Every doula wants mom to feel safe and secure, and empowered enough to be the birthing Goddess she was built to be. Emotional support also extends to grief support and postpartum depression assistance. If the doula can’t provide you with the full support you need they will know who to get you in contact with.Physical Comfort- this is where doulas will differ with each other, and where training comes in to play. Different training backgrounds give doulas different go-to education to work through labor with mom. All certified doulas, and experienced uncertified doulas, will have knowledge to help mom with positions through labor, pain management tools and techniques, and other comforts they bring to the table. Some are licensed massage therapists or yoga instructors, licensed aromatherapists, or trained in different childbirth philosophies/modalities. Before, During, After Childbirth- typically you will meet with your doula for 1 or more prenatal appointments, have support from them during the birth, and then 1 or more post-partum appointments once you and baby are home. This is another area doulas commonly differ in that they offer a different number of prenatal or post-partum appointments. Some doulas only do prenatal or post-partum support, and some you can select a la cart services with to customize the support you are receiving.One of the best articles I’ve ever read explaining what a doula is and is not came from Dr. Rebecca Dekker at Evidence Based Birth. Please take a few minutes to read the article and all the fact based details.
Wait... there are different kinds of Doulas?
For a minute there you thought you had it all figured out, and then I threw this out there. Don’t worry, you’ll have this part down in no time as well. Yes - there are several different kinds of doulas.Birth Doula- this is your standard doula. They provide prenatal support, birth support, and typically one postpartum visit to ensure you are doing well. The postpartum visit is used to see what new questions you have so the doula can direct you to your best resources. Typically fees are a single amount, occasionally there are a la cart options or packages offered. Prenatal and postpartum appointments are scheduled while birth services are ‘on call’.Birth & Bereavement Doula®- certified by Stillbirthday these doulas specialize in birth during any trimester with any outcome. They do plenty of full term regular births at regular rates and bereavement services are typically free or offered with only love donations accepted, if the family chooses to and can afford it. If you, or a friend, is ever in need of assistance during a time where a Stillbirthday doula could be of help please do not hesitate to locate one.Postpartum Doula- some birth doulas are also postpartum doulas, but there are doulas that specialize in just postpartum care. They help with newborn care, breastfeeding, evidence based education, meal prep, companionship, and more. Sometimes overnight assistance is offered. Typically services are hourly or a per visit rate and care is scheduled in advance.As a Birth & Bereavement Doula® I support families no matter what turns there may be; I have committed to this depth of support so that you know that no matter the course of the birth journey, I am equipped to support you. The SBD credential of excellence distinguishes myself from those who have taken other trainings in that my Stillbirthday credential and title is federally registered as well as recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). This designation means that I am part of a globally respected organization in supporting families within the scope and role of a Birth and Bereavement Doula.
Doula - (doo-la) nouna non-medical professional who is trained to provide evidence basedinformation, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother and her family before, during, and after childbirth.