What Does a Doula Do?

According to Karen N. Kilson CD (DONA) of BirthWays...birthing support in CT

A DOULA DOES

...provide physical support to the birthing mother. She may suggest positions that will enhance the birthing or provide relief. She may walk with her to facilitate the birthing progress. According to the mother's wishes and needs, she may massage various areas of the mother's body, cool her face, bring her ice chips, help her turn, apply heat or cold, or assist her to visit the bathroom.

...enhance the mother's ability to relax and conserve her strength for the breathing down. She may use visualization, music, massage, hypnosis or guided imagery. She becomes a constant for the mother with encouragement during a vulnerable time.

...allow the birth partner to participate at his/her own comfort level. She can show him how to use appropriate techniques to help the birthing mother, or can allow him to simply hold the mother's hand, freeing him to simply bond emotionally.

...provide emotional support for the couple. She provides verbal encouragement and assurance when needed, and can help keep the mother focused and in control of her birthing. She understands the anxiety and vulnerability the couple may be experiencing.

...provide environmental comfort, creating an environment that best aids a woman in birth. She may change the lighting or sound level, play music, adjust the temperature, or straighten the room, according to the mother's needs and wishes.

...provide informational support. She understands the process of birth and can explain it. Without making decisions for the couple, she can answer questions for them to allow them to consider their choices and alternatives. When necessary she will bring a member of the medical staff to the couple for additional questions. She strongly supports informed choice, and will support the birthing mother in her decisions.

...stay with the couple throughout their birthing experience. A doula does not leave when the shift changes. There is no need for the couple to acquaint themselves with a new doula partway through the Birthing Time

A DOULA DOESN'T

...perform clinical tasks, such as giving vaginal exams, taking blood pressure readings, or administrating medication...these types of tasks are the responsibility of the clinical staff. Her only concern is the physical comfort and emotional well-being of the birthing mother.

...take the place of the birthing mother's partner. On the contrary, her presence can lessen a partner's anxiety, allowing him/her to participate in the birth at his own level of comfort.

...make decisions for the couple. She provides information to empower the couple to make their own personal choices, and supports those choices.

...intervene between the couple and the medical staff. She will, however, facilitate that communication.

...leave the couple at shift changes. She is with the birthing mother throughout her Birthing Time and for the important period of time following birth.