If you're an expectant mother, you've probably heard of doulas. But what exactly is a doula, and what do they do? In short, a doula is a trained professional who provides physical, emotional, and informational support to a mother before, during, and after childbirth.
What Does A Doula Do?
Doulas provide physical and emotional support to expectant mothers throughout the birthing process. This can include things like providing massages and other forms of physical touch to help ease discomfort, as well as offering emotional support and words of encouragement. Additionally, doulas can provide informational support by answering any questions you might have about childbirth and/or the postpartum period.
Examples of common duties performed by doulas:
Making your physical comfort a priority by assisting through various techniques such as touch, massage, and breathing
Emotional support, comfort, and encouragement throughout the process
Information about what's happening during labor and the postpartum period, including explanations of procedures
Help with facilitating communication between you and the hospital staff
Guidance and support for family and other loved ones
Assistance with breast-feeding
The continuous support that doulas provide has been shown to lead to better outcomes for both mothers and infants. Mothers who have ongoing support from a doula are more likely to have shorter labors with fewer complications and decreased rates of interventions such as cesarean sections and vacuum- or forceps-assisted births. Mothers who receive doula support also report higher satisfaction rates with their childbirth experience. Additionally, infants born to mothers who had continuous support from a doula are more likely to be delivered at full term and have a healthy birth weight.
How Can I Find A Doula?
If you're interested in hiring a doula for your upcoming birth, there are a few options for finding one in your area. You can start by asking your healthcare provider for recommendations. You can also search online for local doula directories or reach out to national organizations like DONA International or CAPPA. Once you've compiled a list of potential candidates, be sure to interview each before making your final decision.
During your interviews, be sure to ask each potential candidate about their experience working with mothers in situations similar to yours (e.g., first-time mother vs experienced mother, vaginal birth vs cesarean section), as well as their policies on things like the continuity of care (e.g., will they be available 24/7 or only during business hours?) and payment (e.g., do they offer sliding scale fees or payment plans?). You should also ask them about their thoughts on pain management during childbirth and whether or not they are comfortable working with medical staff if interventions become necessary.
Past experience and logistical information on the doula's role are important factors but we also encourage you to listen to yourself while interviewing your potential doula. The goal is to find someone who you can connect with emotionally. The feeling of safety, trust, and transparency are essential characteristics you and your doula will share during your journey into motherhood.
Still unsure how to navigate finding the best doula for you? No worries! The Nest put together a What to Ask When Interviewing a Doula Checklist that will give you a better idea of important questions you should consider and ask when you begin the interview stage.
Considering a Doula for Your Upcoming Childbirth?
Are you looking for a local doula in the Massachusetts area? We would love to connect and learn more about you and review how we can make the childbirth process more enjoyable for you! We encourage you to call us at 774-231-8656 or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.