The first few weeks of parenthood can be confusing, tiring, and overwhelming. But a doula can be an invaluable resource to help ease some of these feelings.
Literally meaning “a woman who serves,” a doula provides support during pregnancy, labor and postpartum. Doulas allow for a smoother transition into motherhood by offering emotional support, newborn care, breastfeeding education, and light household tasks. They are also a great option for women recovering from a cesarean section or other complication, families with older children, and new moms with little support from family or friends.
Your relationship with a doula can begin before pregnancy as parents can ask a doula medical questions concerning pregnancy, delivery, and child rearing.
Doulas can also provide information about circumcision, umbilical cord blood banking and immunizations.
Some of the main roles of a doula are:
- Help a mother or father with daily tasks while recovering from childbirth. This may include chores, cooking, errands or taking care of older children.
- Provide emotional support for the new mom. Many women find it more helpful to talk through their feelings after birth and doulas provide this support. They can also assist with postpartum depression and provide emotional or medical support if needed.
- Share knowledge with the new family. Doulas are aware of the most recent evidence-based research.
- Help mothers breastfeed.
However, while the advice and support may be invaluable, doulas are not medically trained and should not replace the advice of a pediatrician or other medical practitioner.
While there is no standard training for postpartum doulas, some organizations such as CAPPA, DONA, and Birth Arts International offer doula certification. Be sure to look for these acronyms when finding a doula.
With a doula’s assistance, a mother should have all of the emotional and physical assistance needed to begin a loving, healthy relationship with her newborn.