About Doulas

A do-what?

The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek, meaning woman’s servant. Today, a doula is a trained labor companion who provides the laboring woman and her partner with continuous emotional and physical support during birth. A doula is part of your birth team.

A doula will meet with you several times prenatally, and can help you by answering your questions about what to expect during labor, easing any fears you may have, and assist you in writing your birth plan.

 

What does a doula do during labor?

During labor a doula will provide continual support. She can make suggestions about positions during labor, help you utilize any of your planned coping techniques (such as breathing methods) to get you through contractions (or suggest new ones if those aren’t working), and provide massage, counter pressure, heat/cold relief, and distractions among other things.

A doula is not a medical provider and does not perform clinical tasks. She does not suggest or make medical decisions for you, but will provide information or encourage you to ask questions of your care providers, so that you can make an informed decision.

 

What are the advantages to having a doula?

Birth is an unfamiliar event to most couples, and medical staff usually doesn’t have time for one-on-one support of laboring women. Having a doula by your side throughout your labour can be very reassuring. Because labour is unpredictable, a doula can let a couple know what’s going on at various stages, and can be a calming presence in a stressful situation. Essentially, doulas are trained labour coaches. Women who hire doulas have less need for pain medication, shorter labors, and a lower c-section rate. In fact, if you are serious about giving birth without pain medication, a doula will be invaluable to you!

 

What’s the difference between a doula and a midwife?

Midwives in Alberta are fully trained medical professionals. A midwife provides prenatal care through the ~40 weeks of pregnancy, birth, and 6 weeks postpartum.

As a doula, I do not provide medical care or give medical advice. My scope is providing emotional, physical, and informational support to you and your partner.

 

I have a midwife. Do I need a doula too?

My role as a doula is very different than a midwife’s, physician’s, or nurse’s. They are primarily focused on and responsible for the medical aspects of birth. While a midwife is often able to provide some of the hands on care and coaching that a doula does during the birth, there are times when this is not possible because they need to focus on the medical side of things: examining, charting, observing, and acting quickly if needed. As a doula, I complement your team of care providers–whether they are midwives or doctors, and I’m able to give support in ways that they may not have time for.

 

Does a doula cancel out a dad’s role?

Absolutely not! In fact, dad is often able to participate more in labour with a doula present. Labour is tiring for everyone, including dad, and a doula can be an extra set of hands for him, run errands in the hospital as needed, or be there to give dad a break periodically. Some men instinctively know how to help their wives in labour, but others are very grateful for suggestions on how to help. Doulas are a dad’s best friend in labour!