I want to start this blog series by defining what a Doula is exactly. There is so much misunderstood and assumed about the role of a Doula, many people do not actually know what one does!
DONA (Doulas Of North America) defines a Doula as;
“A trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.”
Because Doulas are not actual medical professionals and do not prescribe or give medication, most states do not require training or certification to practice. Each state in the USA has different guidelines on this, but the majority do not regulate the Doula profession. Most, however, do encourage receiving training from a reputable institution prior to beginning birthwork. This is both beneficial to the Doula themselves as well as the Clients’ they work with. A trained and certified Doula has a certain level of knowledge and experience when they enter the birthing world and are more readily equipped to support laboring parents.
All of our Professionals here at Stumptown Doulas are trained and certified in their expertise by reputable institutions.
There are several types of Doulas within the birth world, and I think it is important to define each role so that there is clarity as to which one an expecting or new parent may be looking for;
- The Birth Doula
- The Postpartum Doula
- The Sibling Support Doula
The Birth Doula is, by definition, the one that most peopleare referring to when saying the word “Doula”. This is a person who is hired atsome point during pregnancy, conducts a minimum of one prenatal appointment totalk about what the expecting parents’ birth may look like and the preferencesthey have around their options, is on-call for their birth, accompanies them totheir place of delivery and supports them through their labor and birth, andconducts a minimum of one postpartum appointment to talk about how the birthwent, see how everyone is doing and answer any questions the new parent(s) mayhave.
This support person is someone you want to be sure youconnect with well! My personal tip that I share with my expecting clients is;You know you’ve found your Doula when you realize that if they came over whileyou were sick you wouldn’t feel the need to host for them. That’s your Doula!
The Postpartum Doula is the one that lots of people call/assumeis a Nurse. This is a person who is hired shortly before or even after thebirth. The Postpartum Doula provides support to the new family as they figureout their new roles as parents and siblings. This can be shifts during thedaytime or over the night, depending on what each family’s unique situation andneeds are. Day shifts offer time for learning tips and tricks in caring for thenew little one(s) as well as time for a shower, nap, and/or parent(s)connecting with the older children while the Doula cares for the newborn(s).Night shifts are often long, 8-12 hours, with the #1 goal being that the newparent(s) sleep as much as possible. While the Postpartum Doula is there,families can expect light house tidying, baby laundry, kitchen clean-up, etc.
The Sibling Support Doula is the one that no one reallyknows about. This is a person, (typically a Birth or Postpartum Doula) who ishired prenatally by a family who has older children and wants someone to carefor them while they are focused on their labor. This can be for a homebirth,birthing center or hospital birth. The Doula is on-call and comes to thefamily’s home when the birthing parent goes into labor. They care for the olderchild/ren until the newborn has arrived and the non-birthing parent or anotherassigned guardian is able to come take care of them.
No matter where you are with your journey to, or in, parenthood, a Doula may add some much needed support to your life. Reach out us through our contact page or by phone if you have questions about how we may be able to help you and your family through this life changing transition!
Thank you for sharing a part of your day with us!
Until next week...
Doula, SD Owner, Placenta Specialist