A Doula is a trained professional who uses evidence-based information to support new or expecting mothers, their babies, and their families. A Birth Doula provides support primarily at the time of labour and delivery, while a Postpartum Doula provides support primarily in the days, weeks, and months after birth.
The role of a Birth Doula:
-assists the expecting mother and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their birth plan
-becomes a member of the birthing team and stays by the side of the mother throughout the entire birthing process to nurture her birthing experience
-provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, and informational viewpoint, and assistance to the mother (and her partner) in getting the information needed to make good decisions for their family
-facilitates communication between the labouring woman, her partner, and clinical care providers
-understands the physiology of birth and the physical and emotional needs of the mother (and her partner) throughout birth
A Postpartum Doula can do any number of things depending on what the new Mother decides she needs. Postpartum Doulas can: provide physical and emotional support of the new mother and family, help with baby and sibling care, provide comfort measures for the mother, provide feeding support, provide postpartum mood disorder awareness and information, refer to community and health resources, help with light housework (tidying, laundry, food preparation), etc.
Not if you do not feel that type of support is necessary. There are other supports we can provide, such as in-hospital support, Meal Train coordination, postpartum gift basket preparation, help with creating a postpartum plan, and so on. Postpartum Doulas can also act as resources from afar (contacted via text, phone, email, etc.), and we also offer in-person individual or group Preparing for Postpartum workshops.
Research has shown that there are positive benefits associated with Mothers being supported by a Doula or equivalent support person. In addition to that, a Doula can serve as an unbiased and non-judgmental support person that will provide evidence-based information to help support Mothers in their choices. Doulas can refer you to health professionals that they know if concerns are beyond their scope. Doulas are trained to watch out for warning signs of postpartum mood disorders and take appropriate action within their scope. All in all, Doulas are able to enter a situation well-rested, with multiple skills and research-based knowledge in order to support you with the end goal of leaving you and your family happy, healthy, and empowered in your choices.