What exactly is a Doula? And what does a doula do? | Prenatal Health

doula supporting woman in labour explained in article for Fish & field Biokinetics

” I support you in your decision on how you want to birth – I am doula “

Katrina Meek

August is Women’s Month in South Africa. And it has become a tradition with us to dedicate this month to articles that support women with their biggest contribution to society: bringing new life into this world! This time around we have flipped the script a little. We asked Doula Katrina Meek to share with us what exactly a doula is? And what a Doula does?

What exactly is a Doula? And what does a doula do?

Guest Post by Katrina Meek

A doula is trained in labour and childbirth and provides continuous support to a labouring mother. Doulas support labouring women by:

  • Providing continuous emotional and physical support.
  • Giving information if asked and helping the mother find resources to research her birth choices before labour.
  • Using comfort measures like massage, suggesting different positions and helping with relaxation breathing.
  • Accommodating the mother’s wishes for the birth environment (low light, soft music, etc) in the place of birth.
  • Encouraging the mother to be informed about any procedures and interventions (a doula does NOT give medical advice or interfere with the Health Care Provider).
  • Supporting the father/partner in the best way to support the mother.
  • Supports the family Postpartum and settling into home.
  • Supports the mother with her feeding choices. 

Doula VS Midwife

Doula may be very well educated about medical procedures, but she is not a medical professional. She can guide and support your decisions around medical procedures, but she will never perform them herself. A Midwife is a trained medical professional with both the knowledge and skill to safely deliver a baby.

midwife vs doula chart weighing the benefits of various support as we discuss prenatal health at Fish & Field Biokineticists

Where does the partner fit in?

A doula never replaces the very important role of the father/partner and a doula will help the birth partner by suggesting ways that he can support the labouring mom and things that can improve their synergy in labour. The role of the doula is never to take the place of husbands or partners in labour, but rather to complement and enhance their experience.

Today, more husbands play an active role in the birth process. However, some partners prefer to enjoy the delivery without having to stand in as the labour coach. Studies have shown that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labour by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40%, and requests for an epidural by 60%.

Why have a Doula as a member of the birth team?

Having a doula is a must if you want a knowledgeable and experienced person to give you all the love and support you need during your pregnancy, birth and post-baby. We are there to support you and your partner and to let you explore different options that will support the birth that YOU WANT.

My aim as a doula is to empower you to make informed decisions and choices about your labour and the delivery of your baby. I am a mother of 3, a wife, a sister, an Aunty, a friend and a DOULA. I believe birth is incredibly beautiful and powerful. Birth is a sacred moment and quite possibly one of the most important and life-changing events in a woman’s life.  It is a privilege to witness a birth. It is profound.

Katrina Meek WOMBS Trained Doula / Birthing Companion

I am a mother, a wife, a sister, an Aunty, a friend and a DOULA.
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