What is a doula?
A doula provides professional support to new and expectant parents before, during and after birth, and in the early postpartum period. There are several distinct forms of doula support.
Fertility doulas provide support to those hoping to grow their families, helping them access evidence-based information about the process and physiological factors that may help or hinder a fertility journey.
Birth doulas offer clients emotional, physical, and evidence-based informational support. This typically includes visits leading up to the labour experience, throughout the birth and continues into the immediate postpartum period.
Postpartum doulas assist new families with the transition to parenthood, often providing support with infant care, feeding information, recovery support, and education.
A bereavement doula or a “loss doula” supports, and helps supports families who are experiencing the loss of their baby, whether that loss is through miscarriage, stillbirth, or a diagnosis that means the baby will only live for a few brief moments following the birth
Each doula’s support is based on these principles of practice but is customized to each client’s individual needs. We encourage you to meet with several doulas to be sure that you have an opportunity to find the best fit for your family.
Benefits of a Doula
Doulas strive to improve the birth experience of all birthing families. By taking a multimodal and inherently respect driven approach to support, doulas are capable of offering physical, emotional, and evidence-based findings to maximize autonomy, positive birth experiences, and the birther’s right to informed consent.
The value of this support is demonstrated not only through the experiences of families who have had a doula attend their birth but also through the findings of a 2017 Cochrane Database Systematic Review. This meta-analysis found that ““Continuous support in labor may improve a number of outcomes for both mother and baby, and no adverse outcomes have been identified. Continuous support from a person who is present solely to provide support, is not a member of the woman’s own network, is experienced in providing labor support, and has at least a modest amount of training (such as a doula), appears beneficial.”
Such findings support the assertion that doulas make a unique and positive contribution to the birth support team, improving both emotional and obstetrical outcomes. In addition to this, the continuity of care provided by birth doulas that extends into the postpartum period has been shown to enhance early mother and infant relationships and breastfeeding outcomes. Thus, it is clear that the presence of a doula is not only valuable to the birthing family but also assists in building a more systematically favourable birthing environment.