In honour of World Doula Week, I thought I would write a short post about what doulas do. As you can see from the picture, the main role of a doula is to support someone through pregnancy, birth and/or the postpartum period. We provide emotional and educational support to a birthing person and that person’s family.
The Role of a Birth Doula
A birth doula will often meet with a family before a birth to go through some common birth scenarios, and establish some birth preferences. This might include talking about things like feelings towards pain medications, who will be cutting the cord, labouring and birthing positions etc. Whatever the parent(s) decide they would like to do, it is the doula’s role to support them in their decisions. The doula can provide resources to help answer any questions that the parent(s) might have leading up to the birth so that they are fully informed about their options. The primary role of a doula at the birth is a role of emotional and perhaps physical support – encouraging, answering questions, assisting into various positions, trying out different comfort measures and more. Once the baby is born, the doula may remain for up to a couple of hours to facilitate breastfeeding, make sure the family is comfortable and answer any quick questions. There is usually a postpartum visit within a week or two of the birth for more in depth questions about the birth.
The Role of a Postpartum Doula
A postpartum doula may assist a family with a new baby by offering things like breastfeeding support, light cleaning, meal or snack preparation, and sibling care. He or she will offer emotional and educational support, just like a birth doula, and may provide resources or referrals for questions or issues that are outside his or her scope. While a postpartum doula may have a lot of experience with the postpartum experience, he or she is not a medical professional and wil simply provide resources and referrals to help answer any medical questions. Some doula’s offer overnight support to allow new parents to get some much-needed sleep in between feelings after the new baby arrives home.
Overall, birth or postpartum, the role of a doula is support and non-judgement. Every doula is a bit different, just like every family is a bit different – and that is something to celebrate!
If you are expecting and are in need of a doula, or if you just want to know more, please visit THIS PAGE ABOUT DOULA SERVICES.