The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek word, meaning "a woman who serves." Today, the term doula is used to refer to trained and experienced professional, who strive to provide continuous physical, informational, and emotional support to the "perinatal" parent--that is a parent is is expecting to give birth, both before and after the event. A birth doula aims to support the laboring parent, endeavoring to make labor a positive experience. While the focal point is the individual in labor, doulas also facilitate communication between care providers and other support people.
Studies show that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily. Other research efforts have found that parents who receive support during labor feel more secure and cared for, have improved breastfeeding initiation rates and a success, and lower incidence of postpartum depression, among other benefits.
From prenatal, to delivery, and throughout the postpartum period, your doula will talk to you about your expectations, your questions, and your needs, connecting you with the resources necessary to set you and your growing family up for success.
Providing non-medical support throughout the birth
What is a Doula?
While the term "doula" often encompasses a somewhat spiritual tone, pop culture references aim to make this role more accessible to a wider population, using comedy to shed light on the important role a doula plays during delivery, but also before and after welcoming a new child. Brooklynn Nine-Nine for example, featured the following exchange when a character went into labor:
Sharon: A doula is someone who supports you emotionally and physically, and coaches you through the process.
Jake: Oh I see, so sort of like a vaginal Gandalf.