your questions answered
DONA International (the oldest and largest doula organization in the world) defines a birth doula as a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth.
A postpartum doula’s role is to mother the new parents to allow them time to focus on their new baby. A postpartum doula will do a variety of tasks including providing educational and emotional support, referrals as necessary, breastfeeding assistance, newborn education, and encourage confidence in new families.
No, the doula plays a different role. She provides continuous support to the mother during labor. She will include family and friends as agreed to by the mother, liaison with the medical staff to facilitate open communication between them and the mother, and use her experience to provide comfort measures throughout labor. A postpartum doula provides support for the entire family.
No, a doula will help you find and access the information you believe you need to make the best informed decision for yourself. The doula will never take away your voice, only advocate that you get one.
Yes, the doula does not have a medical role, so she is there to support the mother and facilitate open communication with medical personnel.
A doula still plays an important role even when pain medications are given. The doula can help with massage, movement/positions and emotional support, and coping both before and after the medications are given.
Your doula will help you prepare before a c-section, assist you in continuing with your rituals and coping before the surgery starts, help you advocate your wishes that can still be honored, stay with you during surgery (if hospital policy allows), comfort both you and your partner, and tend to you and the baby after surgery.
Here is a list of books – but there are so many great ones available, do some research on books that will fit within your philosophy of birth.
– The Doula Book: How a Trained Labor Companion Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth – Klaus/Kennell
– The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions – Simkin
– Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: the Complete Guide – Simkin, Whalley, Keppler, Durham & Bolding
– The Mother of All Pregnancy Books: An All Canadian Guide to Conception, Birth and Everything in Between – Douglas
– The Simple Guide to Having a Baby: A Step-by-Step Illustrated Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth – Whalley, Simkin, Keppler
– Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – Gaskin
– Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds – Gabriel
– Breastfeeding Made Simple: 7 Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers – Mohrbacher & Kendall-Tackett
-Orgasmic Birth: Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying and Pleasurable Birth Experience – Davis, Pascali-Bonaro
– The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – West & Pitman
– The Nursing Mother’s Companion – Huggins
DONA International also released a position paper DONA International Position Paper: The Birth Doula’s Contribution to Modern Maternity Care.