What is a Doula?

Acupressure on HandThe word “doula” comes from the Greek language and means “one who serves.”  There are three kinds of doulas:

  • Birth Doula:  Offers continuous physical and emotional support to mothers in labor
  • Postpartum Doula:  Supports new moms in the first three months after birth
  • Special Care Doula:  Assists parents who have lost a baby during pregnancy or soon after birth

Looking for a Tampa Bay doula?  Clearwater doula?

Download the Happy Birth Way Guide to Hiring a Doula.

Birth Doulas:

Birth doulas have been assisting women in labor since the beginning of time.  They understand that a woman’s birth experience is one of the most important and long-held memories of her life.

Modern day doulas are trained in the physiology of birth and the emotional changes a woman goes through in labor.  They learn what kind of support a woman needs and offer that support continuously in a variety of ways, including:

  • Guiding her breath and vocalizations
  • Helping with position changes
  • Massaging during and between contractions
  • Working with and supporting dad or partner
  • Reassuring mom and her partner about what is normal in labor
  • Empowering mom to ask questions
  • Providing information about medical procedures
  • Respecting the medical staff
  • Upholding the mother’s birth preferences

A Cochrane review of studies found that women who had continuous labor support from a doula or other supporter reported a more positive birth experience and had fewer medical interventions.  The report states that “all women should have support during labor and birth.”

Postpartum Doulas:

The first few months after a woman has a baby can be one of the most challenging times in her life, especially if it’s her first baby AND she has just left the work force for at least a few months to be home with her baby.  A Postpartum Doula can be just the help a new mom needs.

Postpartum Doulas can support in a number of ways, including helping with:

  • Breastfeeding challenges
  • Caring for baby
  • Preparing easy meals
  • Offers advice on baby care
  • Assists with new family dynamics
  • Light housekeeping
  • Looking after older children
  • Taking care of pets

Special Care Doulas:

In very rare and unusual cases, a baby does not survive pregnancy, or dies shortly after birth because of a congenital disease.  It is a devastating time for families who were anticipating one of the happiest experiences of their lives only to be faced with one of the saddest events they could imagine.  Families are in a deep state of shock and grief.  A certified Loss Doula can help them through those first few hours and days, when they will be asked to make a multitude of decisions in a very short time.  Healing from the Start is a Tampa-based organization that can provide that help.  Founder Lori Martini is a certified Loss Doula and shares her own story about losing her son, Bryce, in 2004.