How would you define doula? If words like “house elf” or “super hero” don’t come to mind, you may not be seeing the whole picture!
At the International Doula Institute, we define doula in our Scope of Practice as:
“A professional support person trained in the needs of the family during pregnancy and childbirth. The doula offers non-judgmental support, guidance, evidence based education and practical hands-on support during childbirth including comfort measures. Doula originates from the Greek word meaning woman servant. A birth doula recognizes the profound impact of childbirth on the mother.”
What exactly does that mean? What does a doula do?
Doulas do a lot of things. It’s one of the wonderful things about being a doula. Within the scope of practice, there is room for fluidity. At the heart of it, being a doula means providing support. But, not all clients want or need to be supported in the same way. Therefore, there are many unique ways to define doula. Some of them may surprise you!
A Search Engine
Doulas are a resource. A fountain of knowledge about all things relating to babies, birth, and postpartum. Just like Google, a doula is there to answer all your questions.
A Fairy Godmother
They may not have magic wands, but doulas absolutely grant their client’s wishes. Doulas understand that woman go through a lot during birth and postpartum recovery, and they strive to make mothers as comfortable and happy as possible. No matter what, their focus is 100% on their client’s needs and they do their best to fulfill their requests.
A House Elf
Taking a cue from the house elves at Hogwarts, a doula will make sure their client’s home is tidy. If mom, dad, and baby are resting, a postpartum doula keeps busy around the house making sure dishes are done, clothes are folded, and everything is tidy. Having an organized home takes away stress from a new family as they adjust to life with their new family member.
If a new mom is feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or worried about her upcoming labor or bringing home her baby, doulas want to hear about it. They can help reassure a new mom or simply be a listening ear. Most importantly, clients can trust that anything they share with their doula in confidence will end there. No lock or key required.
Doulas don’t carry pompoms in their doula bag, but you can bet that no one will be cheering for a laboring mother more sincerely than their doula. During birth, a doula strives to be a positive energy in the room. No matter how a mother chooses to birth, they will do their best to ensure the best possible outcome.
Did you know that doulas have superpowers? Birth doulas have the strength and endurance to support a mother physically throughout labor (sometimes up to 24 hours!). Postpartum doulas can save the day when new parents need an extra set of hands or a few extra hours of sleep. No cape needed!
A Swiss Army Knife
Any tool a mother needs, a doula will have readily available. From a warm rice sock to soothe a sore back during labor, to birth ball to use to help a mother into a more comfortable position during contractions, and everything in between. Doulas are always prepared.
The ways to define doula don’t end there. You’ll learn much more once you begin your birth and postpartum doula training with the International Doula Institute. We can’t wait to what the word “doula” means to you!