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What Is a Doula, Anyway?

What is a Doula? Find out if hiring a birth or postpartum doula might benefit your family.

I love sharing what I do with the world.  Usually, that means the random conversation while shopping, an anecdote with another mom at school, or mentioning how lucky I am to work with parents and their new babies.  I am a postpartum doula.

But, often the people I meet have a lot of misinformation about doulas.  I'd like to clear that misinformation up. 

What is a birth doula?  In short, a birth doula is an expert at supporting a mother and her partner/husband/family during birth.  A doula provides a continuity of care and is typically with a couple from early on in labor until baby arrives.  A doula provides comfort measures and helps women have the birth they want (from a homebirth, to a c-section). 

A birth doula isn't a midwife, or a nurse, she works for and is hired by the expecting family.  A birth doula is concerned with taking care of the mother who is delivering.  Birth doulas work with mothers who are having natural birth, but they also work with moms who want an epidural or other interventions.  Birth doulas support the choices a woman makes about her birth experience.

What is a postpartum doula?  A postpartum doula supports a family or "mothers the mother" after baby is born.  Postpartum doulas offer a wide range of services and work to support families in the transition after a new baby/babies arrives. 

Postpartum doulas typically offer support in many ways: by listening, and fielding the many questions that parents have about their new baby, by helping with household chores like cleaning, and cooking to lighten the load on mom so she can bond with her baby, by teaching parents about newborn care like bathing, burping, nursing, bottle-feeding, sleeping, on an as needed basis.  A postpartum doula also knows the latest research in infant care and can suggest those techniques to our clients.  Postpartum doulas strive to support a family in the way they want to raise their baby and of course this is slightly different for each family.

According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary the word postpartum means "relating to or happening in the period of time following the birth of a child."  So any woman who delivers a baby is then in the postpartum time period.  Postpartum doulas work with families as long as needed, usually for around 4-8 weeks after baby is born. 

I hope this information gives you more insight into what birth and postpartum doulas do.  Share this information with expecting woman, because women who are supported during birth and the postpartum period enjoy it more and have a better experience.

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This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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