Over the last decade, increasing media attention has people asking, “What does a doula do exactly?” With tv shows White Collar and Season 21 of The Bachelor to celebrities Alanis Morrisette and Alicia Keys, the word “doula” is a buzz!
A doula is often mistaken with a midwife, but more accurately referred to as a birth coach, birth assistant, childbirth educator, or pregnancy concierge. However, these are incomplete definitions. A doula is an assistant, but there are several different types of doulas; Antepartum, Birth, and Postpartum Doulas.
Antepartum doulas specifically care for families during pregnancy. They often provide guidance in navigating emotional and physical changes as they grow a little human or may physically care for the mother or birther while on bed rest. They provide considerations for deciding which new hip products on the baby block are important on your baby shower registry or help organize a nursery.
Birth Doulas are trained professionals able to assist childbearing families with emotional, physical, and educational support. Birth doulas fill a gap in modern obstetric care. Though they provide many of the same services as an antepartum doula, their main focus is meeting with families prenatally to prepare for labor and delivery, and the initial breastfeeding. The cascade of interventions can lead to 1 in 3 women having a surgical cesarean birth. Studies have shown doula support can decrease unnecessary interventions and increase maternal satisfaction. Birth assistants can decrease the need for pain-relieving medications like an epidural. They are skilled in techniques for natural pain relief, such as massage and touch, counterpressure, acupressure, rebozo, aromatherapy and offer suggestions throughout labor to help a birther feel more comfortable. We help facilitate communication by considering questions you may ask and offer alternative methods to discuss with your birth team. Most importantly, birth doulas provide a complimentary care that not only brings confidence as mothers approach their birthing time, but helps new parents feel calm, capable, and a ready to take on parenthood!
Postpartum doulas work within the budding family’s home to help for the new mom, dad, parents, grandparents, siblings and newborn adjust. They may prep food, provide breastfeeding support, bottle feed your baby, attend to older siblings, or care for baby as parents recoup with a shower and much-needed sleep. Sometimes a postpartum doula may be referred to as a night nurse or night nanny when providing overnight baby care so families can feel more rested. They may help with the emotional changes the whole family experiences in the postpartum or postnatal period and guide the strengthening of bonds.
There are dozens of doula training organizations and all doulas are not created equally. Although all doulas are sincerely passionate, all doulas work differently! Some doulas are hobbyists, others balance a full-time work/doula life, while still others have built a full-time professional service. They offer different services, different packages, have different skills and experience ranges. They may have stopped their education after a 2-day online doula training, taken an in-person hands-on training and certified, or have additional hands-on complimentary education such as rebozo, Spinning Babies, or massage.
It’s important to ask questions when determining if the doula you’d like to hire may fit your expectations and is the right fit for you!
New Life Blessings offers Birth and Postpartum Doula services including overnight support for you and baby. Read more.