What is a doula?

Doula (pronounced “doola”) is a Greek word meaning “woman servant or caregiver”. It now refers to an experienced person, usually a woman, who offers emotional, practical and informative support to a woman (or couple) before, during and after childbirth. Throughout history mothers and families have benefited from the doula’s presence, both at the time of birth and following birth. Both birth and postnatal doulas offer compassionate, non-medical care to assist families in their new-life transition.

Birth doulas are birth assistants who offer emotional and physical support to labouring families.  They take time and care to meet with couples or mothers prenatally to discuss birthing desires as well as any concerns.  A doula’s knowledge and experience bring assurance as they share balanced information to enable parents to make informed choices.A doula offers non-medical measures of support to give the mother comfort and strength to be able to manage her labour better. Changing labouring positions regularly and often can be vital to progress; a doula’s experience is invaluable here.  In addition to the expertise of the medical staff, doulas bring their knowledge, experience; massage techniques and specialised, non-medical skills that can greatly enhance your labour and birth. A doula’s support is the only continuous in-room help available in any setting.  Your doula is the only member of the birth team who is free to focus entirely on the mother’s need to manage and the father’s need to be of real supportive value.  In addition, you can expect a doula to help apply and expand what you learned in your childbirth education classes.  Together doulas strive for the best possible outcome for the kind of birth experience you envision.  Doulas want you to have a positive experience, whatever your choices are.

Postnatal doulas provide daily, in-home care to mothers with newborns.  Their assistance is entirely non-medical and covers three main areas: practical, educational and emotional support.Practical assistance includes most of the household tasks the new mother would normally do on a daily basis.  For example, loading the dishwasher, doing laundry and bringing nutritious snacks to Mum are all part of the doula’s practical support.  In homes with older siblings, the doula helps to maintain the children’s regular daily routines.  She may also transport children to activities and run other errands.Educational support for first-time mothers, as well as mothers of multiples, includes plenty of hands-on assistance and guidance with infant care.  With experienced mothers, the doula can share the latest literature on infant development and information for any new areas of interest or concern the new baby inspires.  Of course, the doula’s broad range of experience is a valuable resource for any mother.

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