What is a Doula?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Just a basic intro post here, though if you've found yourself at my blog it's likely you already know what a doula is. A doula is defined as "a woman who provides advice, information, emotional support and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth." I feel that this definition is nearly perfect. It leaves out the fact that doulas can fill almost any role you need them to. Not only can doulas be especially helpful to mamas, sometimes they can prepare meals at needed times, help keep dad calm and informed, or even just watch the family's other kiddos if that's what's needed at that time. The fantastic thing about hiring a doula is that most are intuitive enough to detect what needs done and do that. The word "doula" itself comes from the Greek word "doule" which meant female servant. Removing the negative connotations, this is essentially the job of a doula, to serve the mother.

I'd also like to talk briefly about what a doula is not. I'm currently obtaining my DONA certification. DONA is the largest doula certification group worldwide at over 7000 members, so it's likely that this will be the group your doula is certified with as well. DONA requires all members to follow a "Scope of Practice" which can be found here. Paraphrasing, it includes the following:

-A doula should provide emotional and physical support, but will not prescribe a treatment and will always refer a client to her care provider in such a scenario.
-A doula is not a medical professional.
-A doula may advocate for a client, and enhance the discussion between her client and the medical staff, but a doula must not speak for or make decisions for her client.

Basically a doula can be a wonderful asset, but won't replace a doctor or your own judgement. In my next post I'll talk about the benefits of hiring a doula!

Happy Birth!

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