Thursday, February 24, 2011


"I'm not going to have a doula because I'm having a VBAC."

"She doesn't need a doula; she already has an OB."

"That's like a midwife, right?"

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what doulas are and what exactly we do. One thing that probably contributes to this is that the doula's job description varies from doula to doula and changes depending on the needs of the family.

Birth Arts International describes the doula this way- "A labor support doula accompanies the woman in labor, providing emotional and physical support. The doula suggests comfort measures, provides support and suggestions for the partner. When possible, the doula provides pre- and post-partum education, resources, emotional support, to include information on practices and procedures, and information that can assist in the client making informed decisions about her care."

CAPPA answers the question, "What is a Labor Doula?" this way- "A doula is a person who attends the birthing family before, during, and just after the birth of the baby. The certified doula is trained to deliver emotional support from home to hospital, ease the transition into the hospital environment, and be there through changing hospital shifts and alternating provider schedules. The doula serves as an advocate, labor coach, and information source to give the mother and her partner the added comfort of additional support throughout the entire labor."

To answer the statements I quoted at the beginning, I would say that a woman having a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) would benefit from the support that a doula offers. Having an OB doesn't replace the need for a doula, as the OB and the doula have completely different job descriptions; and no, a doula is not a midwife (though some midwives serve as doulas and some doulas eventually become midwives).

Some people ask, what does a doula actually do? Here are some things that I've done and that other doulas do for their clients at a birth:
  • sit with them
  • bring a birth ball to the house
  • give mom sips of juice and water
  • suggest changes of position
  • heat rice socks for back pain
  • play Uno
  • explain procedures
  • give nurses a copy of their birth plan
  • help mom relax
  • give mom a back/leg/hand/shoulder rub
  • give dad a shoulder rub
  • look up information for the parents
  • suggest that mom try the shower/tub
  • get lunch for dad
  • encourage mom to keep going
  • suggest resting during early labor
  • and much more...
If you or someone you know lives in or near Syracuse, NY, feel free to come to the Doula Connection meeting to ask questions about pregnancy, birth and doulas. We meet every second Thursday from 6-8pm. You can also call me at 443-690-6212.

1 comment:

  1. Heard a new misconception the other day... Met a momma who said "you make a home birth pain free right? With water?"

    Uhm.... I think I got some 'splainin to do... lol

    She was sweet but really misunderstood doulas and midwifes! She is now well informed and has some great resources to learn about labor pain management! :)