Doulas are trained professional women who provide emotional, educational and practical support to birthing women and their families. Doulas work collaboratively with clinical caregivers and are experienced in both hospital and homebirth settings. They are self-employed and are hired and paid for by the birthing couple. A doula performs no medical tasks.
The labour doula provides continuous support throughout labour and birth ensuring that the needs of both the mother and partner are met. Doulas provide guidance and comfort measures (such as breathing, relaxation, massage & positioning) during labour and are a continuous presence, often providing relief to the birth partner if needed. It is usual to meet with the family at least once before the birth.
Who needs a doula?
First time moms, those who have had a previous cesarian, moms wanting a natural birth… everyone can benefit from extra support during labour! Dads can benefit too. We sometimes expect so much from our partners – but they haven’t done this before either! A doula helps a partner to be involved (as much as he wants to be) in the labour and birth by offering ongoing support, guidance and reassurance.
BENEFITS OF PROFESSIONAL LABOUR SUPPORT
- 25% shorter labour
- 50% reduction in caesarean rate
- 60% reduction in epidural requests
- Doulas provide continuous and unconditional support of both the labouring mom and her partner
- Doulas help create a birth environment in which the woman feels safe and secure
- Doulas facilitate immediate postpartum bonding and breastfeeding support
Klaus, Kennell & Klaus (1993) Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, Healthier Birth
The postpartum doula is a woman who provides in-home care to the mother and family in the transitional time following birth. Her non-judgmental, nurturing care is focused primarily on the mother, looking after her physical and emotional needs and encouraging bonding, breastfeeding and rest for both mother and baby. The postpartum doula may also provide the following services: mother pampering and self-care support, cesarean recovery support, newborn guidance in bathing, massage, diapering, baby-wearing and soothing techniques, experienced breastfeeding counseling, sibling care, meal preparation, light household tasks and errands, specialized support for twins, multiples and special needs babies.
BENEFITS OF POSTPARTUM CARE
- Women breastfeed longer with woman–to-woman support
- The likelihood of postpartum depression is reduced through the doula’s emotional support and maternal mentoring
- Increases confidence and positive parenting experiences
- Helps parents reconcile the realities of parenting and encourages them to trust their own parenting instincts
- Bonding between mother and baby and between father and baby is enhanced from the nurturing support, guidance and care of the doula