Doulas are trained to provide expectant and new mothers and their families with a range of services to assist the birth or arrival of a new baby, whether that be during the birth process or after the baby arrives home, for postpartum care.
The range of services provided depends on the type of doula like Stephanie that you hire, and what your needs may be. These services can range from assistance during labor to giving the family help around the house either before or after the birth, depending on the family’s needs.
Duties for antepartum and postpartum doulas may include light housekeeping and meal preparation, running errands, providing information on local parenting resources, sharing information on infant care, and offering emotional support.
Antepartum doulas usually help out in situations where the mother is on bed rest or has a high stress or high-risk pregnancy. Birth (labor) doulas will provide emotional support during the labor, guidance through physical support, labor positions, and breathing techniques, and render other non-medical aid that the mother and family may need. Postpartum doulas help facilitate the difficult transition of welcoming a newborn into the family by offering many of the duties mentioned above, plus guidance through breastfeeding and postpartum recovery.
What a Skilled, Efficient Doula Brings to the Table
You might read articles about doulas and see a list of typical services provided by the average doula. But what should you expect from a skilled, efficient doula, beyond a generic list of duties?
Regardless of the type of doula services offered, a good doula shouldn’t just stand in the background waiting to be told what the mother needs. Oftentimes a new mother isn’t sure what she needs or may be too shy or self-sacrificing to ask the doula to perform certain duties.
An experienced doula will be sure to offer a variety of options and services, check on the needs of the mother, and ask if the mother has any questions about infant care, postpartum recovery, etc. She should offer to run errands, get the mother a snack, etc., rather than wait to be asked.
A skilled doula also knows when to fade into the background and let the new parents have time alone or bonding time with the baby. This talent is especially crucial during the birthing or bonding process, when the mother’s partner may feel awkward and be unsure of what to do. A skilled doula will step in where needed, yet also encourage the partner step in and provide support and assistance wherever he or she feels comfortable doing so.
An efficient doula will know when to step in and offer to help or offer guidance in breastfeeding and infant care so that the mother will feel supported. She’ll also know when to let the mother try things for herself, and be there as emotional support, should the mother need assistance.
You can see why it’s important to choose a doula that has the training and discernment to know exactly when and where she is needed, and when to step back and offer emotional encouragement. This is an important criterion to keep in mind when choosing the right doula for your family.