What do doulas do?
The services offered by a doula vary greatly according to the needs of the mother-to-be/parents-to-be. A doula's role has to be flexible to fit in with the given situation e.g. the type of support will differ for a first time mum to that of a woman who has children already. Every birth is unique and therefore every woman's experience is also unique.
Before Childbirth the doula will usually meet with the mother (or couple) at least once face to face, and then perhaps be available by phone or for additional meetings if necessary.
During Labour the doula is able to offer help and suggestions on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning. The doula can also encourage the father to participate in the birth to a level at which he feels comfortable. The doula's most important role is to provide nurturing, continuous support and reassurance.
After childbirth the doula may follow up with a couple of postnatal visits to help the new mum settle at home with her new baby, or alternatively, the mother may decide to employ a postnatal doula for a period of 6 - 8 weeks.
Sometimes this will mean that the mother employs a different doula to the one that attended the birth as not all birth doulas can offer extended postnatal support, whereas there are doulas who ONLY offer this type of postnatal support.