International Doula Month
What is a doula? Years ago, birth was very different than it is today. Women were surrounded and supported by other women during their labor. They brought with them experience, wisdom, and skill. They witnessed birth and knew every laboring mother had her own journey that may be different from another mother’s and even different from her own previous labor journey.
In the early 1900’s, medical care began to specialize and the field of Obstetrics was formed. Birth moved into the medical arena and eventually into the hospital. With this change, witnessing normal physiologic birth, the belief in birth as a normal process, and woman to woman support were lost. The history is interesting, but women and their babies had lost something.
In the 1950’s women began taking birth back. Lamaze played a part in empowering birth equity. In the 1960’s, women began demanding to have their partners present during their labors, and labor and delivery gradually opened to partners. Realizing partners were not trained in labor, the field of woman to woman labor support made its return. This is the role of a birth doula.
Doulas roles are diverse today. There are birth doulas, postpartum doulas, sibling doulas, and loss doulas. While each role is different, they all have one thing in common – serving. Doula is the Greek work for woman who serves.
A Birth Doula
A birth doula’s role begins as soon as she is hired. She will be a voice of support, a reassuring calm place, and a resource of evidence based information for the journey of pregnancy. She will help you prepare in every way for your labor and birth journey, and for what to expect during the fourth trimester with your newborn.
A doula is familiar with the stages and phases of labor and the wide variables of normal. She is sometimes a hip squeezer, a hand massager, a space holder, a calm reassurer, and a guide from one stage to the next for you and your partner. She is your reassuring support for the journey of having a baby helping smooth the pathway into motherhood.
As you can see, her position is not one to be boxed in. It is as individual as each family she serves. You may read more about our birth doula services here.
A postpartum doula supports the family transition with new baby. She troubleshoots breastfeeding, helps answer questions and concerns for motherls recovery, baby care, and family bonding and care.
She will provide resources, help with household management, help with siblings, and support mom’s rest and recover. Sometimes referred to as a Fairy God Mother, her job is to gradually work her way out of service by empowering the family.
To learn more about our postpartum services, please visit here.
Sibling doula is a unique blend of birth and postpartum skills. The sibling doula will get to know your other children. Her responsibly is to take care of them during your labor and birth. For expecting parents who do not have family close by, knowing their other children are with a doula who they are all comfortable with is very reassuring for expectant mothers and fathers.
A sibling doula may take care of the siblings in their home or at their place of birth depending on the family’s preference. If at home, she will try to keep things normal for the children while mom is laboring at her place of birth. They usually really love having the doula during this time.
Here is information about our sibling doula services.
Most of the time, doulas are part of the family joy in adding a new baby. But, sometimes there are losses. Loss never goes away. It becomes part of the family…a part they need to be able to share.
Loss doulas support families through the loss. They help protect the space, and honor the memories of the much anticipated baby. She may help the family with resources such as photography, special keepsakes, and thinking through difficult decisions, etc. Having been through loss with several friends, having this support makes such a difference.
I encourage you to learn more about loss doulas at https://stillbirthday.com/
What is a doula? I hope you learned more about doulas and how they serve families. Feel free to reach out with questions or to share your doula story.