A doula, or birth attendant, is a woman offering non medical support and information to parents in pregnancy, childbirth and the post natal period.
'Doula' is a Greek word that has come to mean "womans servant".
A doula mothers the mother!
She believes in the process of birth and the impact it has on parenting:
- She is a great listener
- She is respectful
- She doesn't impose her own thoughts and beliefs
- She trusts the woman's instincts
- She acknowledges the power of birth
- She believes the birthing woman's partner is the most important team member if that is right for that couple.
- She recognises birth as a non medical event, unless the woman asks for assistance for her or her baby
- She understands that the fewer people interrupting the woman and the process, the quicker the birth
- She knows that dim lighting always makes a difference
- She offers continuous support to the woman and her birth team
Overall, she believes it is a woman's rite of passage to birth her baby where, with whom, and how she wishes.
The doula is knowledgeable in comfort measures such as relaxation breathing, massage and positioning, managing labour sensations using water, hot packs and aromas.
Doulas specialise in non-medical skills and do not perform clinical tasks, such as vaginal exams or foetal heart rate monitoring. Doulas do not diagnose medical conditions, offer second opinions, or give medical advice.
A doula is skilled in supporting the birthing woman and her partner to meet the challenge of labour one contraction at a time.
Many studies in the USA have been conducted and highlighted the huge difference a doula can make to a labour and birth. In the USA, UK and parts of Europe doulas are a recognised part of the birthing team and post natal services. The doula services fill an important gap for women and their caregivers and has been developed over the years to respond to the ever increasing requests from women to have more support and continuity of care before,during and after the birth of their children.
Source - http://www.australiandoulacollege.com.au/what_is_a_doula_/