What is a doula and how can she help me during labor?

A doula is a woman experience in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother and their partner before, during and just after childbirth.  Doulas are trained and experienced in childbirth.  A doula may offer help and advice on issues related to comfort, movement, positioning and relaxation.  She may help gather information about the course of labor and their options.  A doula provides continuous emotional reassurance and comfort.

Doulas do not perform clinical tasks.  They don’t give medical advice or diagnose medical conditions.  They don’t make decisions for clients and they don’t project their own values or opinions onto the laboring woman.  Doulas understand the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor.  They assist in preparing and carrying out a birth plan.  A doula will stay with the laboring woman through the entire labor.  A doula can assist in facilitating communication between the woman and her clinical caregivers.

The doula is emerging as a positive contribution to the care of women in labor. By attending to the women’s emotional needs, some obstetric outcomes are improved.  Just as importantly, early mother-infant relationships and breastfeeding are enhanced. Women’s

satisfaction with their birth experiences and even their self esteem appears to improve when a doula has assisted them

through childbirth.

When considering a doula, there are specific questions you should ask.  Here are a few:

- What training have you had? (If a doula is certified, you might consider checking with the organization.)

- What is your experience with birth, personally and as a doula?

- What is your philosophical approach to your role as a doula?

- Can we meet prior to labor to discuss our birth plans and your role in them?

- May we call you with questions or concerns before and after the birth?

- When will you arrive for labor?  Will you meet us at home or at the hospital?

- Will you meet with us after labor and delivery to review the labor?

- Do you have a backup doula for when you are unavailable, and may we meet them?

- What are your fee and refund policies?



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