Okay! Many of you are already asking what the HECK is a doula?? A snack? A flotation device? Maybe an animal with webbed feet?
Good guesses, gang, but read on for the truth, in this first part of our series on the benefits of doulas.
Doula (pronounced doo-lah) is a Greek word that historically meant “servant.” Now it refers to professionals trained to give support during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.
Doulas are experts in prenatal education, labors and deliveries, infant care, abortion support, and more! Essentially, doulas serve the pregnant person — and if she has one, a partner — in whatever capacity necessary during the perinatal period.
A doula does it all, from answering questions about weird bodily functions, and offering suggestions on various labor positions, to cooking a meal for tired parents, or just offering words of encouragement.
Doulas work to make pregnancy and the transition to parenthood a positive, empowering experience.
As a doula, I’ve had the enormous privilege of being present at many births. I’ve sat with a woman as she breathes through contractions, and watched a partner’s eyes widen at a woman’s strength to push her baby into the world. I've witnessed the first moment that a parent finally meets their child.
I understand why recent studies indicate that having a doula present at your birth decreases the likelihood of needing a C-section and other medical interventions. It shortens the time you are in labor, and increases your chances of feeling positive about the entire experience.
But more specific stories are to come ... let’s get back to the basics!
Who Can Be a Doula?
Honestly, anyone that you trust in a delivery room can act as a doula! But there is a training and certification process that most professional doulas complete to build skills, share strategies, and review the most updated, evidence-based information.
Doulas are versed in fetal development and common pregnancy events.