New Little Life
Birth Doula, Lactation Counselor, Birth and Bereavement Doula
Common Questions About Doulas
What is a Doula?
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.
More info here
Here are a few benefits of having a doula.
- Reduction in cesarean delivery
- Reduction in need of medication for pain relief
- Reduction in use of regional analgesia (such as an epidural)
- Reduction in length of labor
- Increase in spontaneous vaginal births
- Reduction in low 5-minute Apgar scores (a measurement of babies’ well-being after birth)
- Reduction in negative childbirth experiences
What does a Doula do?
This is the most common question about doulas. What do you actually do? Here’s a brief overview but certainly doesn’t include it all!
During Pregnancy – Develop a relationship with the mother where they can ask questions, discuss concerns, create a birth plan together, and provide information on tests, pregnancy concerns, or other information the mother might want. This is a time for education and teaching where the doula can understand the needs and wants of her client.
During Labor/Delivery – The doula stays with and assists the mother in anyway she needs during the whole labor and delivery. Having someone with you the entire time is comforting and helpful. This could be at your home, birth center, hospital, or a combination of those. The main purpose of a doula is just to be there and to help create a safe feeling and positive birth environment. A doula acts as an advocate for the mother, not speaking to medical staff on her behalf, but encouraging her to ask questions and activity participate in her birth and decisions made. They have the ability and skills to help with pain-relieving techniques, massage, breathing techniques, relaxation, laboring positions, among other things. Each doula may have additional or specific skills they are able to share during this experience.
During Postpartum – A birth doula (such as the NewLittleLife services) help mostly in the immediate postpartum. They can assist with early breastfeeding and encouraging bonding between mother and baby. Postpartum doulas are doulas who specialize in postpartum assistance. They provide care for the weeks or months after delivery.
*NewLittleLife also offers additional breastfeeding services through additional certification and training.
*NewLittleLife also offers Postpartum Belly Binding services through additional training.
What Doulas Don’t Do:
- Doulas are not health care professionals and do not perform clinical tasks, such as fetal heart checks, vaginal exams, and taking blood pressure. They are there to provide only physical comfort, emotional and information support and advocacy.
- Doulas do not make medical decisions or speak for you. Doulas will help clients get the information needed to make informed choices.
- Doulas do not speak to medical staff regarding matters where health care decisions are being made. Doulas can discuss concerns with clients and suggest options, and can support clients and/or their partners in discussions with staff as an advocate, but it is the client or the client’s partner that will speak on the client’s behalf to the medical staff.
- Doulas will not prescribe, diagnose, or treat any medical problems that may arise. This is the role of the client’s primary caregiver.
Is a Doula right for me?
Doula’s don’t make decisions for you or tell you the best way to give birth. They are there to help you know your options and assist the mother to have a positive birth experience. Here is a great article to help you decide if adding a doula to your birth team is right for you.
Having a doula does not guarantee that you will have a perfect birth experience, but it can help you to have an informed, empowering, positive birth.
Here are a few blogs I’ve found that offer real life experiences with doulas.
I want an epidural, can I still have a Doula?
Yes! A doula can assist in medicated, non-medicated, cesarean births, you name it! A doula is there to help you have the type of birth you want and assist you in anyway that you may need.
Will a Doula replace my partner/spouse?
NO! A doula is not a replacement for a spouse or partner. In fact, many partners say they felt more confident, helpful, and relaxed when a doula was there. My husband (partner) is my left hand and my doula is my right. – from Doulas Making a Difference
Doulas can help partners by instructing them how to help, give them a break (for example, to go eat during a 36 hour labor!) without leaving the mother alone, provide reassurance when things are normal or information for questions that arise, and so much more. Having a doula in addition to your partner puts much less pressure on a spouse or loved one so they can fill the role you need them to, which is loving support. A doula can worry about everything else so they don’t have to!
Here’s a good blog from a dad’s perspective. I Challenge You To A Doula
What do I ask when I interview a Doula?
It is important you are comfortable with who you have at your birth. I highly recommend some kind of meet and greet either via phone or in person before you make a decision if a specific doula is right for you. It may also be helpful to speak with several different doulas, especially if you aren’t comfortable with the first one you contact.
There are lots of great questionnaires online. I recommend looking through a few and writing down questions that are important to you. Here’s a couple links to get you started.