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What is a Labor Doula? 




"The word "Doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.


A Labor Doula


  • Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life

  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor

  • Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth

  • Stays with the woman throughout the labor

  • Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions

  • Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers

  • Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman's memory of the birth experience

  • Allows the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level


Research evidence shows that the quality services of a postpartum doula can ease the transition that comes with the addition of a baby to a family, improve parental satisfaction and reduce the risk of mood disorders."


From: DONA International



The Evidence For Doulas



What is a Postpartum Doula?



If you’ve never heard of a Postpartum Doula I am not surprised. It seems people talk about birth doulas and childbirth education classes, even prenatal yoga but the Postpartum Doula doesn’t get mentioned often and often times the role of the Postpartum Doula is confused with that of a nanny. The Postpartum Doula doesn’t take over care of the new baby but rather educates and supports a family to take care of the new baby.


Depending on the Postpartum Doula’s Scope of Practice their role may include:

  • Physical support

  • Emotional Support

  • Spiritual Support

  • Breastfeeding and bottle feeding support and tips

  • Baby Care Instruction

  • Light Housekeeping

  • Sibling Care

  • Meal preparation

  • Errand running


So you may be thinking right now, “Wait, I have my mother coming to help with the baby, I don’t need a Postpartum Doula.” If you have family around you may get help from them but bottom line is they want to hold the baby. They want to cuddle the baby and even change tiny diapers. You may need some extra help.


Just a few ways a Postpartum Doula is helpful:

  • If your parents/siblings/friends can come and help that’s great but you may have a very hard time asking them to make you lunch or throw the laundry in.  A Doula wants to help you bond with your baby and is happy to do the laundry so you can get an extra cuddle in. To be blunt, it’s a lot easier to ask for exactly what you need from someone you’re paying.

  • Your Doula will help you remember to eat and make a meal for you.

  • If you’re family doesn’t support your choice in feeding or diapering or to not use the “Cry It Out” method your Doula is there to be unbiased and support whatever decision you’ve made (unless you decide to use a puppy kennel instead of a bassinet or something dangerous like that).

  • If you need help on making a decision about something like cosleeping your Doula will provide evidence-based research, not their personal opinion.

  • If you’re showing signs of Postpartum Depression your Doula may be more objective in recognizing them and will have recommendations for sources for support.

  • Doulas can help with breastfeeding and will refer you to a lacation specialist if you need help outside their scope

  • Your Doula may help you process the birth. While they’re not counselors they are great listeners.

  • Your Doula can help you find ways to include your partner/spouse and other children in the baby care.

  • Your Doula will tell you that you’re doing a good job and when it’s your first baby you need as many people to tell you that as possible.


When the baby arrives simply alert your Postpartum Doula and set the wheels in motion for her first visit to your home.


From Arbor Days


10 Reasons To Hire A Postpartum Doula

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