Advice Column, Health, Lifestyle, Pregnancy, Pregnancy & Baby

What is a doula?

  • Kaboutjie
  • Category Advice Column, Health, Lifestyle, Pregnancy, Pregnancy & Baby

A doula is a labour coach that offers emotional and physical support to a woman and her partner before, during and after childbirth. The word “doula” is a Greek word meaning “woman servant”.

Women have complex needs during childbirth. In addition to the clinical aspects of birth, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labours are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.

What does a doula do:

  • Recognises birth as a key experience you will remember all her life
  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labour
  • Assists you in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
  • Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective point of viewpoint, as well as helping you get the information you need to make informed decisions
  • Facilitates communication during labour between you, your partner and your clinical care providers
  • Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting your memory of the birth experience
  • Allows your partner to participate at his/ her comfort level
  • Stays with you throughout labour
  • Helps you track your birthing sensations and help you to decide when to call your midwife or head to the hospital
  • Gets your birthing pool set up
  • Helps you get settled in at the hospital
  • Works with your partner to help you get comfortable
  • Wipes your brow and remind you to breathe
  • Squeezes your hips
  • Helps your partner feel confident
  • Take photos
  • Tidies up post home birth
  • Supports with words of encouragement
  • Guides you through your first round of breastfeeding
  • Shares your emotion
  • Steps back while you enjoy some precious moments
  • Offers education, companionship and non-judgemental support during the postpartum fourth trimester
  • Assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tidying
  • Offers evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents and makes appropriate referrals when necessary

Did you have a Doula at your birth? How was the experience?

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