What Is A Doula?
A labor doula is someone who has been trained to accompany a woman in labor to provide support. The types of support include emotional, physical, and informational. Emotional support includes encouragement for the woman and her partner and reassurance of the normal aspects of labor and birth. Physical support includes massage, comfort measures and assisting with mobility of the laboring woman as well as providing rest periods for the supporting partner. Informational support includes developing a birth plan to suit the needs of each individual and prenatal discussions designed to round the knowledge of the expectant mother.
Doulas also provide support with breastfeeding. Prenatally, information is given and concerns are addressed. Doulas provide assistance with proper latching and positioning once the baby is born and also help advocate to keep the baby with mom as much as possible to maximize the benefits of starting nursing in the first hours of life. If difficulties or issues arise with breastfeeding, doulas can address many of them as well and provide resources for further help and support as needed.
Doulas not only support the laboring mother, they also support her partner and other support people. Doulas do not seek to replace a father’s role in labor, but rather to enhance it and help him support the mother in the ways he feels most comfortable. Doulas strive to enhance the mother’s birth experience.
I have been serving the Fort Smith, Hot Springs, and Mena, Arkansas areas as a CAPPA Certified Labor Doula since 2011. I am thankful to the many families I have had the honor of working with and excited for the many families to come!