What are Doulas?

As unpredictable as giving birth can be, many people will still want to plan all the details they can before the big day. One of the things you often have control over is who will be in the room during delivery, and who will be in charge of your journey. To ease some anxieties, deciding on the arrangements ahead of time can be very helpful. Many people think of their OB/GYN, their partner or parents, but who else might be in the room? Let’s discuss another person who may assist during and after birth, a doula. While some may not know what that is, they’re a growing community of birth support professionals who help with a range of pre and postpartum care areas.

Graphic by Chloe Chen

So what is a doula… ?

Doulas have many different roles throughout the pregnancy and childbirth journey, but their main obligation is to provide information and support before, during, and even after birth. They are professionally trained in childbirth and are beneficial for answering questions, specifically in planning for birth and postpartum recovery.1 This can be very helpful not only for new moms, but anyone who is looking to learn more about the birth process and different options in terms of medications. Typically, people meet with their potential doulas a few months before their due date to create a birthing plan. A birth plan includes information like where you would like to give birth, for example at home or in a hospital, which medications you would like to take, and any other thoughts and concerns you have about delivery. Doulas are also great resources for postpartum recovery, which can be an area of care that may be overlooked. Giving birth is no easy feat, and you will need some time to heal. Having someone well versed in recovery, who is knowledgeable in how to properly mend from both vaginal and cesarean deliveries can be beneficial to some mothers. Doulas provide a more holistic perspective on the birthing process than some other healthcare workers, and recent studies have shown that continuous labor support has no known harms and numerous benefits for both the mom and baby.2 According to a review of postpartum doula care, this continuous support is linked to improved maternal responsiveness and competence.3 Doulas are also able to provide feedback during postpartum that is outside of the scope of what most OB/GYN provide. A postpartum doula makes quick and necessary interventions for a large range of postpartum issues including latching, breastfeeding obstacles, mental health, pelvic pain, sleep disturbances, and much more. In the end, who you choose to have on your labor team is up to you! Whatever makes you the most comfortable is the right choice.   

What should I look for in a doula… ?

When choosing a doula, there are many important factors to look for. One of the first things is to find out if they are certified, and through what organization. While the majority of doulas have certifications, it is not required. If you are interested in finding certified doulas through a well known organization, click here to find them in your area. After finding some near you, you may want to meet with multiple and see who you are most comfortable around. The doula is a support person for you, and since they are not medically necessary, it is essential that they are someone you trust and want to have around during your delivery. When searching for the right one, ask many questions about things like their previous experience, their reason for entering the field, and how they think they can best support you. Once you have completed the interviewing process and have found someone you click with, they will guide you through the rest of the birth journey! If you are interested in someone to provide support during the postpartum period as well, it is important to specify that in your search, since not all doulas provide that service.

We at SimpliFed believe … 

The most important thing during delivery is getting you a happy and healthy baby. The decision on whether or not to hire a doula is ultimately up to you, since they are going to be a member of your support system. There are benefits to having a doula, but they can also be an extra expense that not every person deems necessary during birth. Using one of our labor worksheets, you can learn more about the birth process and determine who you want on your birthing team! It is impossible to know exactly how birth will go, but planning what you can may help make the big day a little easier!

Resources

  1. Having a DOULA – What are the benefits? (2021, March 10). Retrieved March 19, 2021, from https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/labor-and-birth/having-a-doula-616/
  2. Hodnett, Ellen D et al. “Continuous support for women during childbirth.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews vol. 10 CD003766. 17 Oct. 2012, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub4
  3. McComish JF, Visger JM. Domains of postpartum doula care and maternal responsiveness and competence. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing : JOGNN. 2009 Mar-Apr;38(2):148-156. DOI: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2009.01002.x.

Claire Dowell

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