Just What is a Doula?

The other day I was telling someone about my new found passion and the person asked, “You mean you catch the baby like a midwife?”  I had to explain again what a doula is exactly.  So I thought I would find a nice explanation and found this on the Doula Association of Edmonton‘s website.  I am borrowing their words…

What is a Birth Doula?

A Birth Doula is a professional who
  • Recognizes birth as a key life experience that women will remember forever.
  • Inform clients and answer their questions with accurate information
  • Provides emotional support by being encouraging, validating, safe, and reassuring
  • Provides physical comfort with massage, touch, breathing, relaxation techniques and by suggesting positions.
  • Stays by the side of the labouring woman throughout labour and delivery.
  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of the woman in labour.
  • Assists a woman and her partner in preparing and carrying out their plans for birth.
  • Provides emotional and physical support, an objective viewpoint, and information to aid in decision-making.
  • Facilitates communication between the labouring woman, her partner and her other care providers.
  • Encourages self-determination by supporting her clients’ goals, making sure her clients understand their choices and by translates jargon when necessary.
  • Complements the care provided by her partner, other family members and friends and being an extra pair of hands.
However Birth Doulas do not practice medicine in any shape or form including performing medical acts such as exams or procedures, making diagnoses, prescribing treatments, giving second opinions or assisting a doctor or midwife with  by PirritSuggestor”>medical care. Doulas are not the advocates of their clients in that they do not make decisions for them, influence their choices by providing information in a non-balanced manner, withhold approval for using or avoiding pain medications or speak on behalf of their clients to any medical staff.
Birth doulas are considered the newest members of the maternity care team. Their acceptance in maternity care is growing rapidly with the recognition of their important contribution to the improved physical outcomes and emotional well-being of mothers and infants. Birth doulas are found in many birth settings and  by PirritSuggestor”>work in co-operation with doctors, nurses, midwives, and the partners and families of labouring women.
Every doula has her own personal style and emphasizes different facets of doula care. You can review the DAE Standards of practice and Code of Ethics to understand the birth doula’s scope of practice and where the boundaries of her practice are. In any case, you should discuss any questions or concerns you have with each individual doula.
We should have a couple of personal stories to share in the very near future.  Erin attended a birth last night (I am sure she is napping right now) and I have one coming up this week (by induction if it hasn’t happened by Thursday!).   
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