A doula is a professional whose job it is to support and guide you through your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. These women are often compared to travel guides for visitors to faraway lands since they use their extensive knowledge and experience to make the experience of pregnancy and birth more comfortable and satisfying for the mothers they work with.
If you’re thinking about working with a doula for your own childbirth experience, here are a few things to know beforehand:
Doulas are Helpers, Not Doctors
For those who choose to work with a doula, it’s important to note that these professionals are not medical doctors. While it’s possible to be both a licensed doula and a medical professional, it’s not extremely common. Typically, these are women with extensive knowledge and experience in the field of childbirth, who provide advice, counseling, and emotional support through the pregnancy and birth process. They do not offer as many actual childbirth services as a midwife or nurse but can partner with these other professionals well to create a great birth experience for clients.
Doulas Encourage Natural Childbirth
One of the primary goals of a doula is to help the expectant mother learn what her body is capable of so that she can undergo natural childbirth if she so chooses. Many women who elect to have home births do so with the support of a doula, who encourages and assists them through their pain. However, a doula doesn’t always require that clients attempt natural childbirth, and your doula will accompany you to the hospital to continue her job of encouraging and assisting you if medical intervention is required.
A Doula is More than a Hired Hand – She is a Trustworthy Friend
People who work with doulas often report a sense of sisterhood with these professionals that is priceless. While doulas do charge for their services, their work with expectant mothers feels much less clinical than that of a midwife or a doctor. Instead, they become like friends who follow up with mothers after the birth, attend festivities in the new baby’s honor, and often assist mothers through subsequent pregnancies as well.