The world “doula” comes from ancient Greek, meaning “woman’s servant.” Throughout history women have been supporting other women through pregnancy, labor, birth and during the postpartum period.
Doulas in today’s world are experienced professionals who have been trained to help women through this special period in their lives. Birth Doulas are trained in breathing techniques, pain-coping skills, massage for labor, and other non-medical support techniques. With this support, birthing women are shown to have shorter labors with fewer requests for pain medicine and a lower cesarean rate, among many other positive effects. Postpartum Doulas are trained in breastfeeding education and support, typical newborn behavior and development, postpartum nutrition and postpartum mood disorders. A postpartum doula supports the family through early transitional days and weeks, providing guidance on newborn care and boosting parent’s confidence in their ability to care for and nurture their child.
Women’s satisfaction with their experiences- and even their self-esteem- appears to improve when a doula has assisted them through these times.
Please refer to the Birth Doula or Postpartum Doula pages for more information on each type of doula as well as a listing of local doulas.