A birth doula is someone qualified to provide non-medical support during labor. She is trained in ways to give emotional, physical and informational support to women before, during and shortly after birth. She does not give medical advice or perform clinical duties such as blood pressure or cervical checks. A doula’s job is to assist a woman to achieve the birth she wants, whether that be a completely unmedicated water birth or an epidural as soon as she heads to the hospital.
A doula’s role can take many different shapes. She can provide a laboring woman with comfort measures, such as massage, counterpressure or position suggestions. Additionally, she can give a mother emotional support and reassurance during this challenging time and can provide her with information on many routine procedures such as IV’s, Pitocin, narcotic pain medication and epidurals. She can also assist a woman’s partner by reminding him to eat and drink and helping him to support his partner effectively.
Most doulas meet with you a few times before your birth to talk about your preferences and many will visit you at your home a week or two after your baby arrives.
A doula will generally join you once you are in active labor and, unlike clinical care providers, will remain with you during the whole of your birth.