DOULA WHAT?

Monday | June 1, 2015

When I first heard the word ‘doula‘ I had no idea what it meant or what someone with this title did. Curiosity led me to learn that this individual was responsible for supporting women in pregnancy and childbirth. A doula is that person for everyone; continuous labour support for moms and their partners. Until recently, I had not heard of a postpartum doula. It never occurred to me that these individuals were one of the most important resources someone can have by their side in pregnancy, childbirth and in the postpartum period. As I transitioned into motherhood for the first time, I experienced challenges that many new parents face today. We are a generation with more information and research at our fingertips then ever before, yet none of this can prepare you for the experience of bringing a new baby home in which a family is born or enlarged. Many new parents need a buffer, someone who can drown out all the noise so they can create a sacred space to focus and listen to their intuitive ability to develop and implement their own parenting style. Alas! Sacred Nest was born.

She is a doula

A doula is a greek word meaning “women’s servant” and their role is one of non-medical support. While the same doula may provide both birth care and postpartum care, some work as birth doulas and some as postpartum doulas.  The doula’s basic role is to provide non-intrusive, non-judgemental support according to the family’s needs and wishes.

In traditional societies, women and men grow up around birth, breastfeeding, infants and children. After giving birth, women are surrounded by caring family members who have a great deal of experience and wisdom to offer. In our society, many new parents find themselves ill prepared for this transition and isolated from caring, knowledgeable helpers and advisor’s. In times past, new parents could usually depend on their own parents, other family members, or friends to assist them. Although these resources are still available today, many new parents live further away from their families and in many situations their loved ones still have other commitments that have priority over their need/want to help out.

The postpartum doula fills this gap in maternity care and facilitates the transition to parenthood by supplying reliable and factual information, reassurance and hands-on support with children and household organization. Research tells us that parents who are supported and feel secure during the postpartum period are more successful in adapting to the profound and permanent life change that comes with the birth of a baby.

Women who experience support after the birth of a baby have:

  • greater breastfeeding success
  • greater self-confidence
  • less postpartum depression
  • lower incidence of abuse than those who do not have a doula
  • better coping skills
  • increased bonding with baby

Doula’s contribute to the overall wellness of the family and are now beginning to be recognized on a national scale as part of the health care reform. Parents need to know that they don’t need to cope on their own; asking for help is an important and necessary part of the work of parenting.

Reference: DONA International

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