What is a Doula?

Doula AshevilleThe word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek word meaning “a woman who serves”.  Doula is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

Birth Doulas
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.

During your labor and delivery, a birth doula will:

  • Recognize birth as a key experience that you will remember all your life
  • Understand the physiology of birth and your emotional needs in labor
  • Assist you in preparing for and carrying out your plans for birth
  • Stay with you throughout your labor
  • Provide emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping you get the information you need to make informed decisions
  • Facilitate communication between you, your partner and your clinical care providers
  • Nurture and protect the memory of your birth experience
  • Encourage your partner to participate at his/her comfort level

A birth doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials CD(DONA), if certified by CAPPA, by the initials CLD, and if certified by ICEA, by the initials ICD.

Postpartum Doulas
Research evidence shows that the quality services of a postpartum doula can ease the transition that comes with the addition of a baby to a family, improve parental satisfaction, and reduce the risk of mood disorders in postpartum mothers.

During your postpartum period, a postpartum doula will:

  • Offer education, companionship and nonjudgmental support during your postpartum period
  • Teach family members to “mother the mother”
  • Assist with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household duties
  • Offer evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents, and make appropriate referrals when necessary

A postpartum doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials PCD(DONA), if certified by CAPPA, by the initials CPD, and if certified by ICEA, by the initials ICD.The above information about birth and postpartum doulas is defined by DONA International (DONA).  For further information, please go to www.dona.org, www.cappa.net, or www.icea.org

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