What exactly is a Doula?

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   article s   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) noun 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.
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