If you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, you may have already heard about a doula, thenewyorkdoula.com/services. While looking further at what a doula is, the word itself means women’s servant in Greek. As a matter of fact, women have been helping others during the childbirth process for hundreds of years, proving that the care and support of another woman can have a wonderfully positive impact on the process of labor.

What Is A Doula?

The doula is basically a professional that is trained on the childbirth process to help with providing physical, emotional and educational support for any mother that is expecting, going through labor, or has given birth recently. The purpose of the doula is to help the woman to have a birthing experience that is memorable, empowering and safe.

The term doula will usually refer to a birth doula, breastfeeding and newborn care classes, or even a labor support companion. There are also different postpartum doulas and antepartum doulas available today. You may also hear them referred to as labor support specialists, birth assistance, labor companions, or labor assistants.

What A Doula Does

Many doulas will make themselves readily available to an expecting mother by phone or video chat as a way to respond to any of the questions or concerns that she may have throughout her pregnancy. The doula will not offer any sort of medical care, however, they have a good amount of knowledge when it comes to the many medical facets for delivery and labor.

Most of the time, the doula and client relationship will start a few months before the time that the baby is due. Throughout this period, the two will develop a bond or relationship where the mother can ask questions, share in her concerns and fears, and take an integrated, active role in helping with the creation of a birth plan. Overall, they are wonderful for helping their clients to have a better understanding of any of the procedures involved in childbirth, along with any of the potential complications that can arise in late pregnancy or the delivery process.

When the delivery is happening, the doula can be right there and in close proximity to the birthing mother. They will be able to offer comfort with a range of pain relief options, relaxation techniques, laboring positions, breathing techniques and massage. The doula can also work to help encourage participation from the partner and help to offer reassurance.

Acting as an advocate for the mother, the doula will help fulfill any specific wants or desires that she may have for the birth of the child. The goal will be to help the mother to achieve a birthing experience that is safe and positive, whether it is an all natural birth or a cesarean section.

Once the baby is born, many of the labor doulas then spend time helping the mother to get used to the breastfeeding or bottle feeding. They will also be happy to help with encouraging the bond between the new baby and mother, as well as any other loved ones and family members.

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.