A Birth Doula is…
Doula is Greek for the highest woman servant. Traditionally this woman was there to count on and rely on for all the woman-of-the-house’s needs and wants. Thus a birth doula is one who listens to the birthing mother’s wishes and does all she can to get her there. A birth doula supports and encourages the mom. She helps the parents research and develop a birth plan with their own preferences. She uses her training of comfort measures and laboring positions. She does not perform any medical or clinical tasks. The doula’s goal is to help empower the mother to listen to her body and find her inner strength to go after her birthing desires, adapt as necessary, and enter the wondrous world of motherhood.
A doula is also there to support the dad (or other birth partner) and help him work with the mom. She can calm his fears, take some of the weight off his shoulders, and help answer his questions. Often this extra support actually helps the mom and dad have a more intimate bond of strength and working together.
Doulas are great for any kind of birth: natural, Cesarean, VBAC, etc. They can be especially helpful for first-time mothers, mothers without a birth partner, those with a traumatic background, and anyone wanting some additional support.
A Postpartum Doula is…
A postpartum doula supports in the postpartum period, or the time after birth. Throughout history women have gathered to help and support women through birth and their adjustment to motherhood. They helped take care of the house and other children, freeing up the new mother to rest, heal, and bond with baby.
In our time, new mothers are more isolated. Often, new moms are far from family, and left to figure out baby care with the internet. This can be a good tool, but it doesn’t have that personal touch. Moms with subsequent children often have no other options than to cook, clean, do laundry, take care of all the older children’s needs, and cater to a newborn. Women are amazing, however we are meant to help each other. We crave connection. A postpartum doula restores this lost tradition of supporting the postpartum mom. She is there to talk and help the mother process her birth. She is there to help with c section care. She helps do the tasks needing to be done so that mom can heal, rest, and bond with baby. If help is needed with newborn care or breastfeeding a postpartum doula is a good resource.
Your needs matter, hire a doula.