Sunday, December 30, 2012

            "What is a doula anyway?" 


Standing in line at the grocery store the other day, forgetting I had on my “got doula?” shirt, the check out lady noticed my shirt and said,  
                              “Dowell-la?  What is a dowell-la?”


You, too, might be asking, "What is a doula anyway?" 

Here is a quick glimpse:  She is often up in the wee hours of the morning, driving to who-knows-where.  Before heading out, she quickly surveys her own life to arrange for children and upcoming appointments . . . checking the doula bag to see if any important tools “walked away” since the last gig . . . and sending the necessary texts:

Off to a birth!  
Might not be there today.                    
Will call later if I can.  

She arrives at home, hospital, or birth center to . . . who-knows-what?  Peaceful candlelight and music?  Sounds of machines whirring and beeping?  A mom in the throes of labor?  A room full of family and friends with the mama looking dazed? A mom with PROM and no contractions.  All of the above and more.

This is the life of the doula.

Those new to the term “doula” ask, “When did doulas come on the scene?”  Some would say “at the beginning of time” since the heart of a doula’s work is found in the simple concept of women helping women.

In modern times, the word "doula" came to the forefront in relation to postpartum support in 1973 by author, Dana Rafael. Soon after, Marshall and Phyllis Klaus stumbled on the value of a doula in birth during their work to improve mother-infant bonding through a research project they conducted in Guatemala.  Quite by accident they discovered that doulas make a positive difference for laboring mothers and the newborn baby's family.

Photo: A doula helps support a mother in the squatting position during labor.

"Women across the globe appreciate and value the experience of having a doula - a knowledgeable, experienced companion – who stays with them through labor, birth and beyond. Birth doulas offer emotional support, encouragement and wisdom throughout labor and birth. Postpartum doulas support women and families through the transformation that a new baby brings to a family." DONA International

Over the holidays, the familiar question came once again, "So, you work with pregnant women -- right?"  As with the grocery store clerk, I am happy to explain the work that I love to those who are not aware of the important work of doulas.  Each time I explain what a doula does, inevitably a woman will say,

"I wish I had known about doulas when I had my babies."  

My usual answer?  "It is my sincere hope that there will come a time when every woman can receive the help and support of a doula at her birth."  


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Today's blog was brought to you by Kathie Neff, CD(DONA)
Seasons Within Doula Group & Birth Services

Meet the DoulaTales Bloggers: Adriane Garbayo, Andrea Shutt, Deidre Coutsoumpos, Diana Figurski, Elizabeth Valencia, Heather Hanning, Ivette Carter, and Kathie Neff.  

See you next time!