What does the word “doula” mean?

The word “doula” comes from ancient Greek meaning ‘woman caregiver or servant’. Throughout history women have supported other women in their community during the childbirth process. Today, professional birth doulas take on this role when mothers are looking for someone to provide the emotional and physical support they need during their birth experience.

What is a birth doula?

A birth doula is a person trained and experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth.

What are the benefits of having a birth doula?

Research shows that when a birth doula is present, labour tends to be shorter and has fewer complications. Women who use doulas report more positive childbirth experiences. Doula assisted births have a reduced need for pitocin to induce labour or other delivery assistance, such as forceps or vacuum. There is also a reduction in the request for pain medications, epidurals and cesareans when a birth doula is present.

Can I use a doula even if I have other labour support (partner/mother/sister/friend) or would she take over and make them feel useless?

A doula should enhance the experience for all others attending your birth by providing a calm presence and allow everyone to participate to the level of their comfort. The doula is to provide support for your desired birth and this includes all members of your support team. Many partners feel the doula encouraged them to participate more than they would have without a doula, as she could show them comfort measures that could work at the various stages of labour that they would never have known otherwise.

Does my doula replace my doctor? Nurse? Midwife?

No. Doulas do not replace any medical personnel. Doulas do not perform any medical tests or procedures such as taking blood pressure, temperature, monitoring fetal heart rate, etc. Their role is to provide comfort and support and to ensure the requests of the mother are being met. She can also help with communication between the family and the medical staff. A doula does not make decisions for you, but can assist with making your needs clear to the medical staff.

Will a doula be my advocate?

A doula does not make decisions for clients or intervene in their clinical care. A doula does not speak on a client's behalf. They are there to comfort and support the mother and to encourage and enhance communication between the mother/birthing couple and medical professionals. She provides informational and emotional support while respecting a woman's decisions.

Are doulas welcome in hospitals?

At the Regina General Hospital, doulas are very welcome to assist labouring women. We have cultivated good relationships with the hospital staff and are accepted as an integral part of a woman’s birthing team. Doula’s are one of only two people allowed in the  initial assessment rooms.

What services do you provide as a birth doula?

When you hire Nurturing Start Doula Care you receive two prenatal appointments to review your wishes and get your birth team all on the same page. Your doula’s will go on call 24/7 at 38 weeks, support you during labour, be there at the birth and stay in the immediate postpartum, typically leaving about an hour after your baby is born. We come back for a short visit to review your labour and delivery and help to process the birth, answering any questions you may have and assist with basic breastfeeding, if that is what you wish.
Once you hire us, you also gain access to our library and a wealth of resources spanning many pregnancy, labour and postpartum topics.

When we hire Nurturing Start Doula Care , do we have three doulas at our birth?

Our team of doulas have decided to work together to offer the best possible care to our clients. Between the three of us, we work in shifts so that you always have a fresh doula assisting you during your labour. You may end up with two (or all three) of us at the birth, but likely only for a short time, overlapping each other and not the whole thing.

What does a Postpartum Doula do?

Duties vary depending on what the family needs on any given day, but they may include:

  • Assisting the woman and her family in planning for a smoother transition, whether they're welcoming their first baby or expanding their existing family, through birth or adoption
  • Providing education, emotional support and practical skills related to the postpartum period
  • Helping women and babies get a good start to breastfeeding
  • Sharing suggestions and skills that lead to a calmer baby
  • Providing information and guidance to the woman's partner in bonding with baby and supporting the breastfeeding relationship
  • Helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
  • Catering care for special circumstances such as recovery from Caesarean birth or other challenges
  • Assisting in processing the birth experience (and story)
  • Facilitating communication between the woman, her partner, extended family and care providers
  • Providing non-judgmental support
  • Running errands
  • Informing parents of community resources
  • Recognizing when to refer clients to other experts, for example, lactation consultants or physiotherapists

What do Postpartum Doulas NOT do?

Postpartum Doulas DO NOT:

  • Make decisions for her clients
  • Speak on behalf of her clients
  • Provide medical care
  • Diagnose medical conditions
  • Drive clients or any family member
  • Heavy housework
  • Take the place of a regular childcare provider or babysitter

What if my mother/sister/other family is staying?

The Postpartum Doula will learn of your wishes and enhance family time. She does not take over, but rather helps all family members to be more comfortable with the new baby. Families who work with Postpartum Doulas spend more quality time together and appreciate up-to-date information.

What kind of breastfeeding support do Postpartum Doulas offer?

Postpartum Doulas are trained in normal breastfeeding support and education. They help the mother and baby establish breastfeeding and offer tips to build a good milk supply, a comfortable latch, and launch a healthy breastfeeding relationship. Postpartum Doulas build confidence in their clients while recognizing when to refer to a specialist such as a Lactation Consultant or a community resource.

What if I plan to bottle/formula feed?

Postpartum Doulas respect your choices and are knowledgeable about safe bottle feeding practices for breastmilk and formula.

When does the Postpartum Doula come? How long does she stay?

The work schedule is arranged when you start working with us. Usually, our services are scheduled in a minimum of 3-hour blocks of time, but if the mother requires more time than this, arrangements may be made to accommodate if scheduling permits. We schedule our visits between the hours of 8:00AM and 8:00PM. The Postpartum Doula can come to your birthplace immediately after birth, or wait until a predetermined day to come that has been worked out in the agreement.

How long does a postpartum doula work with my family?

The immediate postpartum period is considered to be 6 weeks, but a Postpartum Doula recognizes that support may be needed for less or more time than that.

What does a Postpartum Doula do about postpartum blues or depression?

Postpartum doula support decreases the risk factors Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD). Postpartum Doulas are trained to recognize warning signs of PMAD and can recommend resources and health care providers that can help, but they are not therapists and do not treat PMAD.

Can a Postpartum Doula help me if my baby is sick?

Postpartum Doulas do not diagnose or treat medical issues. They understand normal newborn appearance and behaviour, but if your child is ill or you are concerned, she will recommend you seek medical attention. If your child is hospitalized the Postpartum Doula can make suggestions for navigating the hospital units while balancing the needs of the recovering mother and other family members.

When is the best time to hire a Postpartum Doula?

Ideally, a family sets up Postpartum Doula services in late pregnancy. She will help with planning for a smoother transition in the early days and weeks. In reality, many people don't know how much they need a Postpartum Doula until after the birth. Postpartum Doulas will accommodate last minute clients as long as schedules permit, so please reach out to us!

What happens if I need to cancel an appointment?

We require a 24-hour notice for cancellations. In the event that less than 24-hour notice is given, we will subtract that time from your remaining hours. This does not apply when severe weather conditions or sudden injuries/illnesses are the cause of the cancellation.

What payment options does Nurturing Start Doula Care accept?

At this time, we accept cash and e-mail transfers only.

*Source for some of the FAQs:  Birth Ways International.