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What Does a Doula Do?

According to the Mayo Clinic, a doula is defined as follows:

A doula is a professional labor assistant who provides physical and emotional support to you and your partner during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. For instance, a doula might offer: Attention to physical comfort through techniques such as touch and massage and assistance with breathing.

I think that is a fair, if short summary of it. Doulas are typically trained extensively in many birthing methods and are able to pass on that information to expecting parents. They should know the pros and cons of interventions in labor and can offer it during times of decision making.

Pain coping techniques, such as hip squeezing, massage, and aromatherapy are also in the scope of doula practice. Some essential oils are perceived as calming and can help introduce a soothing atmosphere in labor. Doulas are trained to help set the tone of the birth and to keep the mother's peace in the birth space. Affirmations, a cold cloth on your face, soft music, a fan, and pouring hot water on your hips and back during labor are all examples of ways a doula can assist you during birth.

Some doulas, including myself, offer one on one birth classes, where we explore pain coping techniques, breathing patterns, different positions, and get a feel for several birthing techniques, as well as cover the basics of breastfeeding, colostrum collection, and safe bottle feeding habits. Relaxation is very important in pregnancy and it is something I cover in my classes by offering techniques and self care solutions.

Another service I offer is prenatal nutrition counseling, where we go over some of the most important nutrients in pregnancy and come up with some meals and snacks to get those into your diet, as well as discuss safe exercise practices. I have referrals to prenatal workout and yoga instructors who I recommend to my clients to help them stay active in a safe and healthy way.

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