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What is a Doula? By Sue Willgren

By savanna - Posted on 04 January 2011

What is a doula?

Wikipedia describes a doula as follows:

Doulas are often trained and experienced in childbirth. They provide continuous physical, emotional, and informational support before labor, during labor, birth and the immediate postpartum period. A doula's goal is to help the woman have a safe and satisfying experience, as the woman defines it. The concept of a Doula is not new. A woman supporting another woman through labor is a tradition that goes back many years in all cultures. Some women do not live in close-knit communities where their sisters, mothers, aunts, and friends are there to support them through pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood; these events can be scary and can make a woman feel lost if she has to experience them alone. A doula helps fill this gap by providing support to the woman and her partner or support system throughout the childbearing year. A doula does not replace the support system; instead, she helps support them so that they can focus on loving and encouraging the laboring woman. Doulas also serve as a source of information during pregnancy, labor and birth. A doula assists families in gathering information about their pregnancy, labor and the options available for delivery. Another important role of the doula is providing continuous emotional reassurance, physical comfort such as massages, and a TENs machine and trusting in the woman's ability to birth her baby. The acceptance of doulas in maternity care is growing rapidly with the recognition of their important contribution to the improved physical outcomes and emotional well-being of mothers, partners and infants.

Up until about a month ago, I had never heard of a doula - now, I am ever so grateful to have one in my life – err my daughter’s life.

Although I am a mother of two, and a nurturer by nature – for some reason the thought of supporting my young daughter through childbirth is a frightening proposition to me. We have been attending the prenatal sessions offered by YPSN and of course, nothing changes in the actual process of childbirth – however, the anxiety persists. Perhaps it is the raw emotion that causes the onset of anxiety? Regardless of what it is, my fear/anxiety causes fear/anxiety in the mother-to-be and accordingly we are both happy to have outside support ready and willing to jump in to help.

Our doula has been fabulous, spending time with us (and our two dogs) in order to become a welcome visitor in our home prior to the onset of labour. She has attended doctor’s appointments and befriended my daughter at a very special time in her life.

Thank you to our doula, and to all of the other doulas out there – who help to make childbirth and labour a positive experience for all!

 ps- To learn more about Sue, check out her profile!