A birth doula is a trained, non-medical professional who provides physical, emotional, and informational support to expectant parents before, during, and after labor.  A postpartum doula provides emotional, physical, and practical support to mothers and families in the postpartum period after birth.

According to Doulas of North America (DONA) International, a Birth Doula:

  • “Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
  • Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
  • Stays with the woman throughout the labor
  • Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
  • Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner, and her clinical care providers
  • Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman's memory of the birth experience
  • Allows the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level”*

A Postpartum Doula:

  • “Offers education, companionship, and nonjudgmental support during the postpartum fourth trimester
  • Assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation, and light household tidying
  • Offers evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing, and coping skills for new parents and makes appropriate referrals when necessary”*

 

*http://www.dona.org/mothers/