What is a doula?
A birth doula is a trained non-medical labor assistant. Doulas provide continuous, hands-on emotional and physical support to parents during the birthing process. A doula can provide advice on different comfort techniques, will do massage and support the parents through the labor process, but she is not a medical professional and will not offer medical advice.
A postpartum doula supports the new mother and her family through providing instruction, assistance with baby care, support with breastfeeding, providing referrals when needed and assisting with household organization such as food preparation and light cleaning.
Why hire a doula?
Studies show that having a birth doula reduces the likelihood of having a cesarean birth as well as other medical interventions during birth. While a doula does not offer medical advice, a doula can help parents navigate the birth process by helping them with techniques such as massage, relaxation and position changes. She can also help them to ask the appropriate questions when medical procedures are being recommended; this allows the parents to make informed decisions regarding their care.
A postpartum doula can help to ease your transition to your new role as a parent and assist those who already have kids with the balance of caring for a baby and an older child at the same time. By assisting in day to day household duties the doula provides the parents with the time that is needed to bond with their baby and also can watch the baby while the parents get much needed rest time. Postpartum doulas can also help to reduce the risk of postpartum depression by reducing the stress of being a new parent, providing the parents with the opportunity to rest and recognizing early signs of PPD and providing resources to help new parents find help.
Is a birth doula a midwife?
No. A midwife is a trained medical professional, responsible for the supervision of the medical care of the birthing mother and baby. A doula is not hired in place of a midwife, but rather in addition to a midwife or an obstetrician.
Is a postpartum doula a nanny?
No. A postpartum doula supports the family. While a postpartum doula can watch the baby while the parents rest, a postpartum doula does not watch the children while the parents are out of the house and does not provide care for any older children in the family.
When should I hire my doula?
The best time to start looking for a doula is when you decide you want one. Looking earlier rather than later will allow you to have more choices in who you hire but it is never too late to hire a doula. People hire doulas as early as the end of the first trimester and may hire a postpartum doula when they get home from the hospital. However hiring your doula early allows you to have the peace of mind that you will be supported through your pregnancy, birth and postpartum period.