Q: WHAT IS A DOULA?
A: The word “doula” is Greek and it means “Servant of women.” She is a trained professional in the area of labor support offering physical and emotional comfort, as well as being a source for information. Studies have shown that women who have continual support during labor by a non-medical person have better birth outcomes and a more positive birth experience.
Q: DO I NEED A DOULA IF I HAVE A MIDWIFE?
A: A midwife’s priority is to be responsible for the medical aspects of your labor and birth – such as baby’s heart tones, blood pressure, etc. Nurses are trained in how to relieve your pain and do not have specific training in supporting the laboring woman. Both of these care providers usually work a shift so you will most likely have several different ones. The doula is a constant from the beginning of your labor through birth. Her sole purpose is to take care of your needs.
Q: WHAT IF MY PARTNER OR LOVED ONE WANTS TO BE MY SUPPORT PERSON?
A: Your partner or loved one knows you on an intimate level and brings the element of compassion. As a doula, I bring knowledge, experience and a confident strength to the birthing environment. I can offer suggestions of ways your partner can comfort you, as well as help you communicate with the medical staff so you feel confident in making informed decisions.
Q: WHAT IF I WANT AN EPIDURAL?
A: Whether you plan to have an epidural or your planned unmedicated birth takes a turn, a doula can support you in various ways. Position changes are important to keep labor progressing but can be difficult to do once you are numb. A doula can help with positioning as well as facilitating a calm and relaxing environment.
Q: DO YOU SPEAK TO THE MEDICAL STAFF ON MY BEHALF?
A: No, I prepare you in advance by providing evidence based information so you will feel confident in making decisions and voicing your concerns or requests. We also discuss the importance of communicating with the medical staff in a respectfully assertive manner.
Q: WHAT IF I AM HAVING A CESAREAN?
A: Anticipating a surgical birth in an operating room can be intimidating and overwhelming. A doula can educate you in the aspects of a cesarean and help you formulate a birth plan that is focused on a gentle, family-centered birth experience. She can remind staff of special requests you might have. She can take photographs, if desired, especially of those first moments after birth. A doula can assist you in getting baby skin-to-skin or even help with breastfeeding in the operating room. Talk to your care provider and the hospital regarding their policies and express your desire to have a doula accompany you during the surgery. Her presence can help you and your partner remain calm resulting in a more positive birth experience.
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