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Types Of Doulas

Types  Of  Doulas

A  labor doula  or birth doula is someone (often trained, though this is not  required) who provides non-medical support (physical and  emotional) to  a woman leading up to and during her labor and  delivery, an aspect of  care that was traditionally practiced in midwifery. A labor doula may  attend a woman having a home birth or a woman laboring at home before   transporting to a hospital or a birth center, where they will continue  their support. Doulas do not perform clinical duties such as heart rate checks or vaginal exams, or give medical advice. Labor doulas rely on  techniques like massage, positive positioning, emotional support, encouragement, and nurturing to help women through labor. Many offer  phone and email support as well as prenatal and postpartum visits to ensure the mother is informed and supported. The terms of a labor/birth doula's responsibilities are decided between the doula and the family. The doula is also an ally for the father or partner, who may have little experience with the labor process and may also find the process anxiety provoking. Studies have shown that childbirth education can help reduce paternal anxiety [5] and one of the doula's roles is to educate.[6] A responsible doula supports, encourages, and educates the father or partner in their support style rather than replacing them.[7]

Dr. John Kennell, who has studied the impact doulas have on mothers, babies, and childbirth, says, “If a Doula were a drug, it would be malpractice not to use it”.[8] Fortunately, studies have shown that these same results can be achieved through the inclusion of a close friend or relative with minimal or even no formal training in the birthing process.[9]

As paying for the services of a doula can be a costly undertaking, some hospitals and foundations offer programs for volunteer community doulas.[10] Volunteers play an important role for women who cannot afford to hire a private doula and they can encourage mother-based birth advocacy and may help a woman to feel more empowered during her labor and birth.[citation needed]. Studies have also shown that these same results can be achieved through the inclusion of a close friend or relative with minimal or even no training.[11]

A postpartum doula a.k.a. postnatal doula provides support to the mother and family following the birth and immediate postpartum period. This can be for a few days or up to and beyond six weeks, depending on need. This may include breastfeeding support, newborn care assistance, cooking, light housekeeping and errands. She offers education, companionship and nonjudgmental support during for the few weeks following the birth. Also provides evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents and makes appropriate referrals when necessary.

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