Awareness of the doula trade is growing in the birth industry. Birth is the experience in life that, traditionally, brought females from multiple generations together through a supportive environment. As industries emerged, individuals migrated away from their families, both nationally and internationally, in search of new opportunities. People were encouraged to build their own villages of close individuals. When the birth of a child comes into play, doulas are hired to fill the role of a supportive emotional figure during the transitional time.
Everyone has their reasons for hiring a doula, but a supportive team member during birth is a primary variable. There are doulas for each phase of childbearing before, during and after birth. Not only are there birth and postpartum doulas, but there are doulas for those times in life where people need more emotional support than their immediate village can provide.
Birth doulas fill an emotional support role on the birth team. They support the mother and her partner and help educate them both about the physiological process of birth. Birth doulas attend prenatal appointments in the client’s home ahead of the birth to prepare them for positions and signs of labor.
The birth doula arrives during early labor to help them manage the contractions into active labor and delivery. Often the role of birth doula does not end at the birth of baby. She offers initial breastfeeding support, post-birth, as well as resources and a postpartum visit to answer any questions and review the birth experience. If the family needs further assistance post-birth, postpartum doulas doulas are available.
Postpartum doulas’ responsibilities help alleviate new parents’ stresses. The journey of parenting can have an overwhelming start, but postpartum doulas lend a helping hand and resources to boot. Postpartum doulas can run errands, assist with breastfeeding, cook, assist with other siblings, clean and allow the parents to grab a nap here and there.
Their experience with newborns is extensive, and they can connect new parents with references for doctors, parents groups, lactation consultants and anyone in the area of need. The doula helps the mother’s recovery, and can be even more help if the baby arrived via cesarean. The assistance from a doula in any and all phases lessens the chance of postpartum depression and allows for a more confident start to parenting.
From infertility and adoption to end-of-life, doulas are also useful. The emerging field of alternative doula support has become a topic of conversation for those working in the healing arts in the modern era. Emotional support and knowledge of a physiological process are not only useful for birth and postpartum. As compassion is sought, and supported needed, doulas have a promising future in the field of their choice.
Doulas not only care for women in labor, but throughout the transitional phases of their lives. Awareness of doulas’ roles are growing and helping alleviate stressful and isolating circumstances for individuals. For pregnancy, birth doulas may offer additional postpartum services, but either role is effective in helping new parents. Asking for help is a noble and progressive way to empower yourself.