Nurse Nikki Celebrates
World Doula Week
I became familiar with the term doula about 7 years ago while living in Chicago. I met a young Orthodox Jewish woman who was over-the-moon excited about her work as a doula. She told me her stories and I too shared her excitement. My undergraduate OB nursing clinical experiences left much to be desired. I was exposed to multiple scheduled C-sections and some very unnecessary and rushed birthing interventions. I also came to appreciate that some medical interventions such as IVs, epidurals and C-sections were very necessary and life-saving. However, when I started my graduate work in New Orleans I was once again introduced to doulas and midwifes and all things natural about birth.
Since I started my professional journey of promoting healthy families in New Orleans, I have gained a lot of knowledge about natural birth and birthworkers, which is why I have steered the focus of my business in this direction. I have the extreme pleasure of working with a great group of doulas through Birthmark Doula Collective and Sista Midwife Productions. In honor of International Doula Week I wanted to explain the duties of a doula and why your labor needs their support.
What is a doula?
A doula is a non-medical professional trained in childbirth who supports a woman before, during and after birth. A doula also supports spouses, partners and the immediate family.
What does a doula do?
The doula attends prenatal appointments with the mother, assists with birth plans and childbirth education. During birth, the doula helps mom transition through the multiple phases of labor by providing physical and emotional support. A doula is an advocate for the expectant family and works for them and not the hospital. He/she respects the choices of the family and aids them in making informed decisions about their childbirth experience by offering evidence-based information. A doula is also extremely valuable in the scenario of when a mother does not have any support. I have seen doulas provide exceptional support to teenage, single and military mothers.
Doulas are also extremely beneficial during the postpartum period. They monitor how the new family is adapting, answer new parenting questions, help with breastfeeding, watch for signs of postpartum depression, and process the birth experience. In addition, postpartum doulas provide individualized assistance a family needs to adapt to their new parenting life. Postpartum doulas can do laundry, dishes, light housework, or simple errands so that the parents can spend time with their new baby. They can also care for the newborn baby so that mom can shower, eat, or rest.
If you have any questions about whether your labor needs a doula, contact me and I can fill you in on their awesomeness. Also check out the evidence for doulas.