The Purpose and Value of a Doula
Photo credit: Julia Cedar
Emotional support may be one of the most valuable aspects of care that are offered to the labouring mothering and new parents. Because the doula is knowledgeable in the birthing process and not charged emotionally with the situation as a parent would be she is in the perfect position to focus solely on the mother and watching and listening to what is going on. From this place of observation she is able to assess the needs of the mother and partner and offer caring words, reassurance, gentle guidance, assistance with breathing, vocal toning and a reflection of the courage and strength that is being displayed.
With the increased possibility of less medical interventions babies born to couples with labour support are often more alert and awake. This makes immediate breastfeeding easier and more effective. Babies are more likely to have a stronger sucking reflex, stay awake long enough to learn how to latch properly and draw out the nutrient dense colostrom. The role of the doula continues after birth so that she can help the new mother and baby navigate the unknown waters of breastfeeding, changing, bathing, self care for the healing mother and bonding for the whole family. The doula can provide valuable support regarding resources in the community, and educated the new parents on some of the common and not so common issues that may arise after birth such as postpartum depression. After the birth the doula visits the couple several times to help with the transition into their new life, and often to process the birth experience together.