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What is a Doula?
A doula is a trained professional dedicated to assisting with pregnancy, labor, and postpartum care. Doulas provide non-medical guidance and support in a variety of ways. The word “doula” is a modern Greek word for “female helper” or “maidservant.”
What does a Doula do?
Anything and everything they can to help the birthing person have a positive birth and postpartum experience. Including, but not limited to: advocacy for the birthing person before, during, and after labor; infant feeding assistance; infant care; sibling care; housekeeping; and emotional support. Additionally, as a practicing Licensed Massage Therapist, I offer massage therapy to the birthing person, the infant, siblings, and the birthing person’s partner.
What are the benefits of having a Doula?
The benefits are three-fold. First, there are clinical benefits to using a doula. Decrease in the potential for unnecessary interventions; such as the use of pitocin; pain management; forceps; vacuums; reduced likelihood of c-sections; better apgar scores. As well as greater satisfaction with birth, more positive long term memories associated with the birth. Second, there are emotional benefits, including decreased anxiety, increased confidence, boosted self-esteem, improved postpartum mental health, family bonding and support for siblings and partners. Finally, the physical benefits, which include increased movement, improved relaxation, comfort and reassurance, and lactation support
Will a Doula minimize my partner’s involvement?
Absolutely Not! The doula may be the only person at the labor beside the partner who is there solely for the emotional well-being of the [birthing person]. The [medical staff] have other priorities that compete with the emotional care of the [birthing person]; for example, breaks, shift changes, clinical responsibilities, office hours, and hospital policies. The doula has few or no other priorities. In some cases, the couple will bring several other friends or family members into labor with them. Sometimes these people can be uncertain of how to help, which leads to confusion and actually adds to the [birthers] stress. The doula can direct and coordinate the efforts of a group of people, giving them all something useful to do, so they work as a team on the [birthers] behalf. The doula can actually bring the couple closer. By making sure that the partner’s needs are met (food, drink, occasional back rubs, and reassurance), the [birther] and partner can work more closely together. The doula allows for the partner to participate at his or her comfort level. Some partners prefer to be there only to witness the birth of their child and to share this experience with the [person] they love. They may not want to play an active role and do not want to be responsible for the [birthers] comfort and emotional security. The doula can fill in and allow the partner to participate as he or she wishes, without leaving the [birthers] needs unmet. When the partner chooses to be the major source of emotional support, the doula can supplement his or her efforts by running errands, making suggestions for comfort measures, and offering words of reassurance, and comfort. During a long tiring labor, they can give the partner a break for a brief rest or change of scene. For the partner who is shy, uncertain, or unversed in his or her role, the doula suggests simple but truly useful tasks, such as timing contractions, holding the [birther], supporting them in a particular position, massaging them. In such situations, the doula might take the lead, but the partner plays an important secondary role. While the doula probably knows more than the partner about birth, hospitals and maternity care, the partner knows more about the [birthers] personality, likes and dislikes, and needs. Moreover, he or she loves the [birther] more than anyone else there. The combined contributions of partner and doula, along with a competent, considerate and caring staff give the [birther] the best chance of an optimal outcome. The Doula and the Partner: How They Work Together to Help the Birthing Woman by Penny Simkin, P.T. – Author, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Birth Counselor
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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