A Do-what?!– Doula 101

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I am so excited to announce that I finished my Doula training! I attended a DONA workshop learning the ins and outs of what it is to be a Doula. I learned more about what to expect during the labor and delivery and things I can do to assist moms; everything from counter pressure, massage, calming techniques, and emotional support. This has been a dream of mine for years now and I finally was able to do it. I can’t wait to start!

After first announcing my new path of becoming a Doula I have many people questioning exactly what I am doing. “A do-what!?” I am not surprised by the number of people that do not know what a Doula is and what we do. In fact, when I was pregnant with my first baby my older sister suggested for me to hire a doula, my exact response was “What the heck is a Doula!?” After which she sent me a link to a website of some local Doulas. Unfortunately I did not hire a Doula and looking back I really wish I had. As I have jumped into the world of birth work I have seen how much needed Doulas are and I hope that one day every mom can have a Doula. Before that happens expecting parents need to know what a Doula actually is. There have been some common misconceptions when has come to Doulas so hopefully I can answer some of those questions.

So what is a Doula exactly?

The word Doula (doo-la) is a Greek word that was used in ancient times for “a women servant or caregiver”. While we are not exactly “a servant or caregiver” we do serve moms in pregnancy and birth. A Birth Doula is a trained and experienced professional who is knowledgeable in the birth process and the needs of the laboring mother. They provide physical, emotional and informational support to women during their pregnancy, labor and birth.

What birth Doula CAN do?

  • They can help parents to be aware of their choices in birth and help guide them in creating a birth wish list
  • They are available for support during pregnancy, to help with resources locally and online.
  • They can provide continuous physical support through light touch, counter pressure and different laboring positions.
  • They are there to support mothers in any birth choices, whether it’s med free, epidural, cesarean, home or hospital.
  • They are there to help mothers advocate their wishes for their birth and guide her for a positive birth outcome.
  • Most Doulas will be there to help answer questions during the postpartum period, especially when it comes to breastfeeding, newborn care and postpartum mood disorders.

What A birth Doula CANNOT do
While Doulas are there to help during pregnancy, labor and delivery there are a few things we cannot do. Those things include and not limited to:

  • Making birth choices for you. We can help provide information in your choices but ultimately those decisions are up to you and your partner. We are there to support you in those decisions.
  • Speaking to caregivers for you. We can help YOU advocate your choices and decisions and even help encourage you in speaking up but we as your Doula cannot speak to the caregivers in your place.
  • Provide medical care or advice. We cannot and do not take place of your caregiver. Asking your caregiver for medical advice is highly encouraged. Along with that we cannot look for heart tones, take blood pressure or anything along those lines.
  • Cannot promise a specific outcome. Birth is unpredicatable. Your Doula can help you know your options, know what to expect and plan for the birth you wish for but sometimes there may be things that come up that was not on your plan. We cannot guarantee your birth outcome but we can be there to support you when things change and help you to feel empowered in the entire process even when you have to make a decision you may have not planned on.

Having Doula support has been shown to increase the positive outcome of births. No matter what birth choices you make Doulas are there to support you through it all. Hopefully after reading this post you walk away knowing a little bit more about Doulas and how beneficial they can be for you during your pregnancy and birth!


Have you had a Doula before? Tell us your experience below!

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