The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and 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.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.
A Birth Doula
- Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
- Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
- Stays with the woman throughout the labor
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
- Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
- Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman’s memory of the birth experience
- Allows the woman’s partner to participate at his/her comfort level
A birth doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials CD(DONA).
A Postpartum Doula
- Offers education, companionship and nonjudgmental support during the postpartum fourth trimester
- Assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tidying
- Offers evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents and makes appropriate referrals when necessary
A Postpartum Doula’s primary objective should be to work herself out of a job, as parents experience success and their knowledge and self-confidence grow, their needs for professional support should diminish. The Postpartum doula, having educated and supported the parents in a unbiased and nonjudgmental way should know when they have outgrown their postpartum Doula, the Doula knows that her clients are now confident and secure in their roles as parents.
A postpartum doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials PCD(DONA).