Here are some commonly asked questions about Doulas and the services they provide:
What is a Labor Assistant or Doula?
A Labor Assistant is a professional care provider who understands and trusts the process of birth, who respects its transcendent and sacred aspects as well as its physical and emotional aspects, and who facilitates* the birth experience for the parents, baby, and primary care providers.
*facilitate~to make easier, to ease, to smooth, to explain, to simplify; but also to empower, to allow, and to clear the way.
What is the difference between a Labor Assistant, Doula, Monitrice, or Midwife?
A Labor Assistant is another name for Doula, as well as Labor Support Provider, Birth Assistant, and Labor or Birth Companion. The term Doula comes from the Greek meaning “woman’s servant”. A Monitrice is a French word used by Lamaze that refers to specially trained persons who provide nursing care and assessment in addition to labor support. A Midwife is a trained professional with special expertise in supporting women to maintain a healthy pregnancy and birth, offering expert individualized care, education, counseling, and support to a woman and her newborn throughout the childbearing cycle.
What does a Doula do?
A Doula supports and encourages woman-centered birth as well as the parent’s decision making rights at all times. A Doula provides information at the woman’s request, helping her to empower herself but never taking the power from the mother. Generally, a Doula will be available for around-the-clock phone consultation from the time of hire until a specified postpartum date. She will provide continuous emotional and physical support from the onset of labor (or whenever the mother decides) to several hours after the birth. This support comes in many forms, including: massage, guided relaxation/visualization/meditation, encouraging active participation from father (or other support person), suggesting positions, positive verbal encouragement, and answering any questions.
Personally, I tell my mothers that her wish is my command. If she asks me to bake her cookies while she’s in labor, I’ll do it. If she asks me to rub her feet for six hours on end, I’ll do it. It is my job, and my pleasure, to treat her like the queen she is. I check my wishes, wants, etc. at the door. My duty is to her and her birth.