who is doula?
The word doula comes from the Greek language and means –a woman who serves. Today it stands for an educated and experienced professional who provides continuous emotional, physical and informational support to the mother before, during and immediately after the birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the period of puerperium.
A birth doula follows a woman in labor and helps provide a safe and satisfying experience. She relies on professional training, knowledge and experience to provide emotional comfort, physical support and, if necessary, communication with the staff to make sure that you have enough information to make a decision. She can provide you and your partner with a different perspective, make proposals for the improvement of the labor process and help with relaxation, massage, changing positions and other techniques to facilitate labor. She is independent and self-employed. A doula works for you, not for caregivers or a hospital.
Before the onset of labor
She will meet with you and your partner at least once before the onset of labor to explore and discuss your priorities, fears and concerns, your birth plan and the plan for your cooperation, and to teach you how to easily cope with the pain and anxiety, and cooperate with a partner.
She will inform you when she is unavailable and offer you support when labor begins. During this time she can offer one or more backup doulas that, if you want, you can meet. You can arrange other meetings and be sure to stay in touch by phone or e-mail.
It is best to call a doula as soon as you think you’re in labor, even if it’s not so. She can answer your questions and suggest something on the phone. Then you decide whether she should come immediately or you should wait for further changes. You will have to decide where you will meet–at your place, in the hospital or elsewhere. Except in exceptional circumstances, a doula will stay with you during labor.
A doula usually stays with you for an hour or two after labor, until you feel comfortable and are willing to hang out with her quietly. She can help you out with the first breastfeeding, if necessary.
She is there to answer your questions about birth and your baby and usually keeps in touch with you for a few weeks to see how you and the baby are doing, to talk about your experience of labor and receive feedback on her service.
What does a doula not do:
Does not do hospital tasks such as measure blood pressure, fetal heart rate, perform vaginal exams and so on.She is there only to ensure physical comfort for you and provide emotional support.
Does not make decisions for you.She will help you get the information so you can make decisions and will alert you if there are deviations from your birthplan.
Doesn’t talk to the staff on your behalf.She will discuss your concerns with you and suggest options, but you and your partner will talk directly with the staff.
A postpartum doula provides information and companionship together with uncompromising support during the six weeks right after birth. She helps with the care for a new baby, family adjustment, preparing meals and light housework. She gives information, based on relevant research, on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from childbirth, calming the child and is there to give appropriate recommendations when necessary.
Scientific evidence shows thatquality service of a postpartum doula can ease the transition triggered by the arrival of a new member in the family, improve parents’ satisfaction and reduce the risk of changes in behavior.
Why hire a doula?
Numerous scientific studies have shown that the presence of a douladuring labor:
- leads to a shorter labor and fewer complications
- reduces negative feelings about childbirth
- reduces the need for a drip, vacuum and caesarean section
- reduces the number of requests for pain killers and epidural anesthesia
Research has shown that parents who had support:
- feel safer and taken care of
- better adapt to new family circumstances
- have more success in breastfeeding
- have higher self-esteem
- are less likely to develop postpartum depression
- have fewer cases of abuse
INFORMATION, QUESTIONS AND TERMS
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