What is a Doula?
A labor doula is a person who attends the birthing family before, during, and just after the birth of the baby. The certified doula is trained to deliver emotional support from home to hospital, ease the transition into the hospital environment, and be there through changing hospital shifts and alternating provider schedules.
The doula serves as a labor coach and information source to give the mother and her partner the added comfort of additional support throughout the entire labor. She encourages and promotes self-advocacy, informed choice, and excellent communication between the mother and care providers.
What Does a Doula Do?
The following is a general description of what you might expect from a CAPPA certified labor doula. Typically, doulas meet with the parents in the second or third trimester of the pregnancy to get acquainted and to learn about prior birth experiences and the history of this pregnancy. She may help you develop a birth plan; teach relaxation, visualization, and breathing skills useful for labor. Most importantly, the doula will provide comfort, support, and information about birth options.
A doula can help the woman to determine pre-labor from true labor and early labor from active labor. At a point determined by the woman in labor, the doula will come to her and assist her by:
Helping her to rest and relax
Providing support for the woman’s partner
Encouraging nutrition and fluids in early labor
Assisting her in using a variety of helpful positions and comfort measures
Constantly focus on the comfort of both the woman and her partner
Helping the environment to be one in which the woman feels secure and confident
Providing her with information on birth options
A doula works cooperatively with the health care team. In the event of a complication, a doula can be a great help in understanding what is happening and what options the family may have. The doula may also help with the initial breastfeeding and in preserving the privacy of the new family during the first hour after birth.
For more information on what a Labor Doula does, visit CAPPA.