You may know what a doula is and does, but if the term doula is new to you allow me to share with you what a doula is and what we do!
Doula; an Ancient Greek word pronounced "doo-la" means slave or handmaiden.
Today the word doula is a growing noun, however, many are unsure the definition, what a doula is, what they do, and how they serve growing families. Doula is defined as a professional person providing continuous informational, emotional, and physical support to an expectant family. The support is provided to the birthing person and their family before, during, and after childbirth.
THE TWO TYPES OF DOULAS
A professional who is knowledgeable in the physiology of birth, and the emotional needs of a laboring mother. A birth doula is available to you throughout pregnancy, during childbirth, and the immediate postpartum phase. Assisting you in the preparation for birth by offering education and encouragement to make your own informed decisions. Doulas empower you to carry out your birth preferences.
My birth code of ethics and standards of practice (DONA).
A professional who offers nonjudgmental support to you and your family. A postpartum doula will be available to you at any point following childbirth to offer resources and support. The use of a postpartum doula helps create a smooth transition from life before baby to life with your newest bundle of joy!
My postpartum code of ethics and standards of practice (DONA).
DONA International What is a doula?
WHAT DOES A DOULA DO?
A trained doula is able to offer support in various ways. The following are some of the services a doula can provide to enhance your experiences as a growing family.
After reading through the list above you may ask yourself, "don't doulas deliver babies?"
The answer is no. Why? Because a doula, although trained in childbirth, is not medically trained. A doula is not professionally trained to perform tasks such as cervical checks, fetal monitoring, gather vital signs, or administer medications. Doulas are soley a support and leave the medical advice and tasks in the hands of midwives and doctors.
Doulas are... Professionals.
Professional doulas are trained and educated through an organization, such as DONA International (Doulas Of North America). Professional doulas are also unbiased and supportive of each and every uniqe birth and the choices of the families served. After training it is up to the trained doula to become certified with the organization.
In the State of Minnesota there are guidelines on how to become a professional doula, but the profession isn't governed. The Minnesota Department of Health oversees the doula registry they do not evaluate the doula or their training. With that being said a doula, by law, does not need to become certified nor registered with the State of Minnesota. Therefore, finding a professionally qualified doula is not dependent on the MDH doula registry. Many doulas (certified and not) are perfectly qualified and provide amazing, professional support.
Find more information on the MDH website here.
To insure you are hiring a professional and trained doula be sure to ask questions. You may even want to interview two or three doulas to ensure you find the one most compatable with you and your family.
WHERE DO DOULAS WORK?
Most often doulas are self-employed, working privately with families. Doulas may also work at agencies, birth centers, or hospitals. When looking to interview doulas you may start with an internet search, referrals from friends, or contacting your local birth community.
Samantha Martin is a professional doula and childbirth educator from Big Lake, MN. She comes from a loving family and is the oldest of six children. Although she has yet to start a family of her how she very much enjoys guiding expectant families through they're journey into parenthood.