Here are some important Doula FAQ’s.
What IS a doula?
A doula is a professional labor support person. The word doula literally means “woman who serves”. A labor doula often meets with families during pregnancy and provides support to the family during the pregnancy, continuously throughout the labor and birth, and some postpartum visits. She (or he) provides emotional, informational, and physical support through various comfort measures. Starting in pregnancy, your labor doula may go over what to expect during labor, what some comfort measures are, help find ways to relax and prepare for the birth, as well as create a birth plan and discuss any fears and concerns. During labor, the doula will be there continuously encouraging, nurturing empowerment, and supporting any emotional needs that arise. The doula will also help find comfort measures that work such as using touch, relaxation, breathing, positioning. The doula can help facilitate communication between the family and care providers. Postpartum, the doula helps mom to process the birth experience, helps with some newborn care, breastfeeding basics and will refer the family to any needed resources.
What does a doula NOT do?
A labor doula is NOT medically trained therefor does NOT give medical advice or perform medical procedures such as dilation checks, fetal heart tone checks, etc.
A labor doula does NOT speak on your behalf. A doula can discuss questions and concerns and help encourage communication but does not voice your decisions.
A labor doula does NOT make decisions for you. A doula will help you gather information and process it but the decision is yours and the doula will support you on that.
What about the father/partner relationship with the doula?
Many moms, and partners, fear the doula replaces the partner or mom’s other non-professional supports, such as family and friends. This is not the case. Doulas and partners work together and add on to each other. A doula does not know mom as well as the partner and the partner typically doesn’t have as much knowledge and experience with the childbirth process. Together, with care providers they make up a team all there to support mom. Labors can be emotional, long, and tiring for partners as well. The doula can provide suggestions of ways the partner can help, give the partner a break to grab a quick snack or go to the bathroom. The doula also helps mom and partner gather information to make informed decisions.
How is a doula different than a nurse/midwife/ob? What is their relationship like?
Doulas do not provide medical/clinical care as the nurses, midwives, and obstetricians do. While they focus on the medical aspect of childbirth, making sure both mom and baby are doing well, the doula focuses on the other aspects. Together they can make a great, well-rounded team!
Is a doula worth it?
I know you want to make sure your money is going to good use. In my opinion, as a woman and a mother, not just a doula, YES, it is SO worth it. This is a day and time in your life you will remember for a long time. Studies have shown that doula support can shorten the length of labor, reduce the risk of interventions, and leave mom and family feeling more positive about their birth experience even if it did not go as wished.
Want more info on doula support?
Evidence Based Birth has put together an article on doulas and how they can support you. They also have up to date stats on doula support. Go check it out!