A doula, the Greek term for “a mother’s servant,” is an experienced woman who “mothers the mother,” helping the new mom and her family during or after the birth in a nonclinical capacity. “The doula works with the couple or support team,” explained certified doula Chan McDermott, MPA, who is also a certified Bradley Method instructor. “Her goal is not to get between a woman and her partner, but to help the support person be as effective as possible. She can also help demystify some of the ‘medicalese’ and technology — help a woman to understand what her options are.”
There is another care provider called a monitrice who can perform clinical skills, such as checking heart tones and dilation, but these are not services provided by the doula.
According to Luna Wood, certified doula, breast-feeding educator and owner of Labor Support Services, a doula’s services can include many things.
Before the Birth
- Conduct a birth-planning meeting during which the doula consults with the couple and discusses the interventions that can happen in the hospital.
- Help the parents go through their birth plan and decide what’s important to them.
- Share information.
- Meet and consult with the healthcare provider.
During the Birth
- Massage the laboring woman.
- Help coach the laboring woman.
- Apply cool washcloths or hot packs to help make the mother more comfortable.
- Coach the partner and help him relax.
- Assist with breast-feeding.
- Help with nutrition.
- Help with baby care.
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