The word "doula" means servant and comes from the Greek language. Recently it has come to mean a woman helping another woman in childbirth. She provides physical and emotional support to the laboring couple. She can also assist the couple in creating a birth plan and be available throughout the birth process with information. She does not perform any medical procedures (i.e. checking fetal heart tones, measuring blood pressure, checking cervical dilation, etc.). Her sole responsibility is to help the woman and couple have the birth that they have planned for and to support them regardless of what actually occurs in the labor and birth.
A doula can be any woman experienced in childbirth that is selected by the couple to assist them. She can be a mother, sister, aunt, friend, or a hired professional. Doulas do not only support women that desire a natural birth. The doula's role is to support the wants and needs of the couple, whether it be to help them avoid using medication or to help and support them through a labor with a planned use of analgesia or anesthesia.
When I wanted a doula at my second birth my husband asked, "Why do we need one ?" I answered that she was my insurance policy. I wanted someone there who was more experienced in birthing, to remind us of what we had learned in our childbirth class, and to keep me focused on my goal of a natural birth.
Doulas fill a void in the health-care delivery system in today's hospitals. Labor and delivery nurses care for multiple patients and have the responsibility to care for the laboring mother and their unborn child. The doula's only job is to provide physical and emotional support. She is there throughout any nursing or physician shift changes. She can allow a spouse to take a break to eat or rest. She can model behaviors to help the Dad know how to better help his wife in labor.
If you would like local triad doulas to send you more information about their services try our free doula referral service