What Are Doulas?
The term “doula” originates from ancient Greek and translates to “a woman who serves”. It is the term used to refer to an individual that is trained to provide emotional, informational, and physical support to expectant mothers and their immediate family. The doula is responsible for the wellbeing of the family during pregnancy and after pregnancy in the last stage, sometimes referred to as the “fourth trimester” or the postpartum period.
Why Choose a Doula?
Many expectant families want the best child birthing experience. The doula provides more than just medical treatment. They are available to help care for the emotional wellbeing of the expectant mother, and help to teach their partners how to care for them. Doulas can come in and help child proof houses, they are available to help with siblings and integrating the new baby into the home setting.
There are recent studies that have indicated that families that used a doula had shorter labors with little to no complications. The babies were healthier, the birthing process was smoother, and the babies were able to latch on and breastfeed faster.
The Different Types of Doulas
Most doula services offer extensive packages that allow families to get exactly what they want out of the doula experience. There are two main distinctions when it comes to doulas.
The Birth Doula: The birth doula is dedicated to providing parents with the birthing experience that they want. They are trained to understand the emotional and physiological needs that occur during the birthing process. They follow expectant mothers throughout their pregnancy and are present throughout the labor process. They provide information and support for all expectant mothers and help them to make informed decisions. They encourage partners to participate in the birthing process and help them be the emotional support that the expectant mothers need.
The Postpartum Doula: While most doulas offer both services, some doulas prefer to focus on the postpartum period. The postpartum period, or the “fourth trimester”, is the time just following birth. These doulas offer educational opportunities and provide nonjudgmental companionship during the first few weeks with the new baby. Many doulas will help with small household chores, meal preparations, and will provide newborn care to allow parents to rest. Postpartum doulas are an important asset, because having a new baby is hard on the entire family. Many families need the additional emotional support which a doula is able to provide. Often the doula that saw the family through the pregnancy will request to be the postpartum doula; however, this isn’t always the case. Doulas teaches parents information for feeding and soothing techniques. They also help older siblings adjust to the idea of a new baby in the house.