A doula is a support person who aids during the process of a significant life event such as pregnancy, childbirth (labor) and postpartum (after childbirth).
There are in fact many different types of doulas, and each professional offers different services for different events, most doulas will be happy to tailor their services to the needs of the individual.
A birth doula, or labor doula, is a trained companion who provides support to the mother during her pregnancy and labor.
The duty of a birth doula is to empower the mother and support her preparation for childbirth and motherhood.
The different types of doulas:
Birth Doula - A childbirth doula supports during pregnancy and sometimes also labor
Postpartum Doula - A postpartum doula is not usually present for labor, but supports postpartum (after the birth of the baby)
Birth & Postpartum Doula - Some doulas are trained to provide prenatal, labor and postpartum support (during pregnancy, childbirth and after the birth)
Miscarriage / Abortion / Stillbirth / End Of Life Doula - These are specialized doulas who focus on supporting during a wide variety of health related life events.
What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?
The fundamental difference between a doula and a midwife is that a midwife is medically trained. The focus of the midwife is the health and safety of the client and the baby. Their aim is to deliver a healthy baby.
If a midwife is present during labor she/he will take vital sign measurements, perform exams and deliver the baby - whereas the doula would attend to the mothers needs (emotionally, mentally, physically).
The focus of the doula is to support and tend to the needs of the mother - emotionally, mentally and physically. The focus of the doula is to holistically care for the mother during pregnancy and childbirth, by encouraging the parents to make their own educated, informed decisions.
The doula can support this process by providing general information, research and resources - but doulas are not medically trained to give healthcare advice. A doula doesn’t give their opinion on childbirth or parenting options, but supports the decision making process of the parents themselves
What exactly does a doula do?
What is the difference between a birth doula and a postpartum doula?
Each doula is different and provides different services.
A birth doula usually helps the mother to prepare for childbirth and motherhood, along with being present during labour itself. A labour doula will provide her love, care and attention during the childbirth and advocates for the mothers’ wishes.
A postpartum doula is present to support the new mother in any way she needs directly after childbirth.
A birth doula can:
Help you to prepare your birth plan
Support your decision making process and advocate for your preferences
Help to demystify and simplify technical jargon, so the mother feels empowered in her own decision making process
Teach labor breathing and birthing techniques and positions
Introduce topics that the mother may not have otherwise known, or been exposed to
Introduce and teach a wide array of helpful techniques for childbirth and mothers
Provide the calming comfort of her experience and knowledge
Provide reliable educational resources on pregnancy, labor, childbirth and motherhood.
A birth doula can tailor their support to the individual needs of the mother and family
A postpartum doula can:
Help you to transition into the beautiful journey of motherhood
Support your postpartum preferences and advocate for your wishes
Empower the mother in her new role
Introduce and teach skills, and helpful techniques, for newborns that the mother may not have otherwise known, or been exposed to
A postpartum doula can aid the transition for the entire family, and older children in the household
Can support the flow into a new routine, and can also physically help with chores and household duties
Provide the calming comfort of her experience and knowledge
Provide respected educational resources on postpartum care, newborns and motherhood.
A postpartum doula can tailor their support to the individual needs of the mother and family
Benefits of a doula
Are doulas worth it?
Research shows that having a trained doula present during childbirth reduces the likelihood of certain medical interventions, such as caesarian delivery and instrumental vaginal delivery.¹
It has been found that the involvement and support of doulas results in better birth outcomes and birth experiences, as doulas focus on empowering the mother and individualized care.²
One study reported that 6 weeks post birth the women who were supported by doulas were more likely to be breastfeeding, had a higher level of self esteem, a stronger bond with their babies, were less likely to experience postpartum depression and had more confidence in their ability as mothers to care for their babies.³
Benefits of doula supported childbirth:
Caesarian rates significantly reduced by an average of 28%
Shorter labor duration⁴
Less likely to have a forceps or vacuum assisted delivery
Less need for pain medication such as epidural
Babies are born in better health (higher Apgar scores)
Improved mother experience and positive feelings about the birth
Carmen is a birth and postpartum doula at Yaami Yoga, she is currently based in Bali, Indonesia.
At Yaami Yoga we strongly advocate for the holistic health of mothers during the full spiritual spectrum of motherhood from pregnancy, to labor, postpartum and beyond.
Yaami Yoga provides in person and online prenatal and postpartum Yoga classes, which prepare mothers not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally for childbirth and motherhood.
We provides full, comprehensive birth and postpartum doula support in-person or online at affordable prices - as all mothers deserve an empowered, sacred birthing experience!
If you have benefitted from the presence of a doula or midwife, please share this post to spread awareness of the importance of sisterhood, doulas and midwives to other mamas!
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"The birth of a child is a sacred phenomenon"
- Lailah Gifty Akita