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What is a Doula?

One dad once said, "Going to a birth without a doula is like going to court without a lawyer."

A birth doula is an individual who provides continuous care for a laboring woman and her partner during labor and birth. She helps them participate fully in their experience by offering physical and emotional support, information about the birth process, and information about available technology and alternatives. Doulas draw on their knowledge and experience to help ensure that women have the information they need to make informed decisions during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. Birth doulas can provide reassurance and perspective to a woman and her partner, make suggestions for labor progress, and help with relaxation, massage, positioning and other techniques for comfort.

Choose the one you mesh the best with.  Doulas have different levels of experience, training and pricing, but they'll fill you in on all of that when you ask. Ultimately, a doula will strive to do whatever necessary to help women and their partners have a good birth and postpartum experience, as the mother and her partner define it.

What is the value of a birth doula?
from DONA International

Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth…

  • tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
  • reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
  • reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug)
  • reduces the need for forceps or vacuum extraction
  • reduces the need for Cesareans
  • reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals

Research shows parents who receive support…

  • feel more secure and cared for
  • are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
  • have greater success with breastfeeding
  • have greater self-confidence
  • have less postpartum depression
  • have lower incidence of abuse

A postpartum doula provides support to the parents and family after baby arrives, typically in the home although virtually is now more common, too.  Whether holding the baby, teaching basics about soothing and feeding a baby or changing diapers, postpartum doulas help in ways that support the parents to eat, sleep and bond with their babies.  Each doula has their own style, what they like to focus on and what they do and don't do...ask them!  Maybe what you need to help you feel better is meal/snack preparation. Or someone to organize your pantry. Or fold clean clothes.  Or run to the store for you.  They can do many things to make your life easier, including hold a baby so you can nap and shower! Like all professionals, of course, they each have their own experience and training and pricing...find the one that you mesh well with!

“Being a doula isn’t just what I do…it is who I am.”
~ unknown

Contact one of these postpartum doulas to see if they are available and what services they provide. Call several. Meet with a few. Choose the one you mesh the best with.  There are many other wonderful doulas, too, but start here and if they aren't available, they'll give you other recommendations. Doulas have different levels of experience, training and pricing, but they'll fill you in on all of that when you ask. 

Birth Doulas 

Postpartum Doulas

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