A doula is a professional labor attendant. She knows ways to keep you comfortable, and may help educate you before the labor. There are as many varieties of doulas as there are birth philosophies.
The types of doulas are as varied as the types of women who are going to labor. Some have highly developed clinical skills, allowing them to do cervical exams and diagnose problems during labor. Others have trained themselves to be constant companions, never leaving the mother’s side and never tiring of giving positive feedback. There are some who are trained in Lamaze, Bradley or Hypnobirthing. There are some who will speak to the medical staff for you, and there are some who will not speak to the medical staff for you.
When interviewing doulas, pay attention to the style of doula she is. Does she perform the services you would like at your labor? Does she share your birth philosophy? Do you enjoy her personality? Do not hire a doula you do not feel comfortable with. Regardless of the way she practices, there are some things that all doulas do. These skills and techniques are what make a professional valuable during labor.
Resource for Comfort Measures
Having a doula is like having your very own talking labor guide. They not only know what helps during labor, they also know when it helps and how to do it. She can either perform these comfort measures herself, or help your family or friends to support you with comfort measures. Your labor partners will feel more confident knowing that they are doing the right thing.
A doula not only encourages the mother to keep going, but she encourages the labor support to keep going as well. The process of labor can be long, and it gets hardest just before it is over. A labor support professional can keep you and your labor partners focused during the most intense part of labor, helping you to manage any discomfort or pain.
Help you Understand the Options
A doula is also a source of information about ways to handle your labor. Medical attendants do not always have time to get into all the options available, and all the risks and benefits for the options they do give. A labor support professional can help you ask the right questions to know what options are available, and what each option consists of. This can help you make better informed decisions.