What Is A Doula?
The word DOULA is an ancient Greek work meaning “Woman’s Helper”. The word has evolved into referring to an experienced woman who provides emotional, physical and informational support to childbearing families.
Historically, women have turned to other women for comfort and guidance as they have brought their babies into the world. When birth moved into the hospital, this vital component was lost. Today’s obstetric caregivers are recognizing the benefits of continuous labour support and on going support during the days and weeks following childbirth.
Research studies have found that when doulas attend birth, labours are shorter, there are fewer complications and there is less need for synthetic oxytocin to speed labor, for forceps or vacuum extractor deliveries or for pain medication, epidurals or cesarean deliveries. Babies are also healthier and they breastfeed more easily. Furthermore, women express greater satisfaction with their birth experience and enjoy an enhanced relationship with their partners.
As Dr. Micheal Klein states:
“The presence of a doula is a major advantage for physicians, the women and their families. They provide a level of support that is often very difficult to achieve in a busy maternity care service. WE see increased satisfaction with the birth experience, lower intervention rates and excellent infant outcomes.”
There are two types of Doulas; Labor/Birth Doulas,and Post-Partum Doulas.
A birth doula meets with the expectant woman and couples to become familiar with their expectations, hopes and concerns for the birth of their child. They are Labor support persons who attend to the emotional and physical comfort needs of laboring women to smooth the labor process. They do not perform clinical tasks such as heart rate checks nor vaginal exams.
She also assists the woman/couple in obtaining the information needed to make informed decisions. This information is evidence based. It is not based on tradition, “wives tales” nor personal opinion.
Guidance is provided to the partner to enable them to participate at their own comfort level. During labour and birth, they often will use massage, positioning suggestions, etc., to help the labor to progress as swiftly and calmly as possible. There is continuous support and resassurance provided during the birth, as well as immediately after the babay is born.
The comfort for the new parents dealing with their new baby, breastfeeding established, and ease of handling a new born is ensured before the doula leaves.
A Postpartum Doula is knowledgeable regarding postpartum maternal physical and emotional well being.
She offers evidence based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from childbirth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents. This support is offered in the family’s home and can continue until the new mother and family are feeling confident. She offers quiet, non-judgemental support and companionship during the postpartum period.
She assists with newborn care and family adjustments in a non-judgemental fashion. She is able to give the positive reinforcement while the family learns it’s new dynamic.
Wendy Lind, R.Ac.
Wendy Lind, R.Ac., is a practicing birthing doula and an active member of Doula Services Associaiton of BC. As a Registered Acupuncturist, she is able to provide further comfort for the mother during labour, delivery, and postpartum. All of which, provides for a calmer delivery and happier baby.