What is a Doula? A doula is a birth and or postpartum professional who is experienced and professionally trained to provide continuous support to the birthing family. Doulas may work with a family in pregnancy and during birth or attend the new mother and family at home in the first days and weeks following birth. Doulas appreciate that pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period are transformative and deeply meaningful to the new family. A basic premise of doula work is that a mother who was nurtured through her labor, birth, and the early postpartum period is better able to nurture and care for herself and her infant. Doula care represents a return to the tradition of woman-to-woman support during pregnancy, birth, and the immediate postpartum period. The doula's work and nurturing presence complement the care that laboring women receive from medical practitioners. Doulas do not perform clinical tasks and are not medical professionals. Instead, they work alongside the medical team, which may include midwives, obstetricians, nurses, lactation consultants, and pediatricians. Natural Resources is proud to offer both a comprehensive Birth and Postpartum Doula Training Program and to also help new families find a Doula (or two) to support their birth and early postpartum period.
Birth doulas understand that the laboring woman will remember her birth experience for the rest of her life. A birth doula will work in tandem with the laboring woman's partner or independently through pregnancy and labor supporting the birthing mother's vision for her birth. During labor, a birth doula may offer suggestions of comfort measures and positions using their knowledge of the anatomy, physiology, emotions, and hormones of labor to facilitate a smooth labor. A birth doula remains with the laboring woman throughout her labor and birth continuously. Research shows that continuous labor support reduces a woman's likelihood of having pain medication, increases both her satisfaction with her birth and her chances of a spontaneous vaginal birth. Birth doulas work in all birth settings, (the home, birth centers and hospitals) and with both midwives and obstetricians.
Postpartum doulas offer practical and emotional support to the new mother and family in their home following the birth of their baby. Postpartum doulas help the mother and new family become comfortable in their new roles. They may offer breastfeeding and newborn care guidance, advice on healing from birth, general household help, and referrals to community resources. Postpartum Doulas facilitate bonding with the baby and allow parents to spend extra time with older siblings and enjoy their experience. Studies show women who work with doulas have a lower incidence of postpartum depression and higher rates of breastfeeding than women without doula support.