Role of a Doula

A doula is an experienced labor professional who provides comfort, encouragement and information. She is unique in her role because of her knowledge and training, helping to bridge the gaps between expecting parents and their care providers which in turn enables couples to make informed decisions and ensures mothers receive the support they need to have a positive birth experience.

A Doula Does...

Provide evidence based information including benefits and risks for the options available in labor, and understands the physiology of birth as well as the emotional needs of women in labor. A doula offers both physical comfort techniques such as massage, positioning and pressure points and emotional support through affirmation and encouragement. It is important to a doula that a woman feels empowered to make her own decisions and that the doula collaborates in any choices the mother makes. In essence it is the doula's role and mission to help the mother have an satisfying experience as defined by the mother, and she understands birth is a meaningful experience that has value beyond the goal of a healthy baby which a mother will carry with her for the rest of her life.

A Doula Does Not...

A doula does not replace a woman's partner in labor, instead she assists the partner in providing compassionate support to their loved one. A doula can teach a partner useful coping techniques in order to comfort the laboring mothers. Doulas are also very helpful by demonstrating positive ways to encourage mother, instilling confidence in both mother and her partner. Additionally having a doula present offers the opportunity for the partner to participate within their own comfort zone while the doula is able to fill in any way which the partner is unsure of. There is also the added bonus of allowing partners the chance to catch a much needed food or nap break during especially long labors without leaving their partner unsupported at any point during childbirth.

A doula does not provide medical care or perscribe. She does not function as a healthcare professional in any way, including reading fetal or maternal heart rates, blood pressure, or perform any other medical procedures, nor make any form of diagnosis. She may, however, provide evidence based information and offer suggested alternatives in order for parents to make informed educated decisions about their care.

To read more about the role of doulas, check out these wonderful sites:
DONA International - What Is A Doula?
Childbirth Connection - Labor Support

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