What is a Doula?
A doula, also known as a birth companion, birth coach or post-birth supporter, is a non-medical person who assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth, to provide emotional support and physical help if needed. They also may provide support to the mother’s partner and family. Unlike a midwife, doulas are not medical professionals and therefore cannot administer medication. Doulas are typically certified with some courses taking over a year to complete. Practical training is involved to become certified. Continuous support during birth from a person outside the mother’s family or social circle, such as a Doula, is associated with reduced mortality rates, improved overall health of the mother and the baby, shorter labor time, reduced risk of a C-Section, and a lower need for medical interventions such as instrumental delivery or pain relief. Support from a Doula may also reduce mothers’ negative feelings about their childbirth experience. Some doulas provide postpartum support, for example assisting with housework, cooking, and offering help with learning to breast feed.