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 Photographer: Michelle Bressler 



 Photographer: Michelle Bressler 

What is a doula? 
Doulas are non-medical professionals who support birthing people and their families during pregnancy, childbirth and in the first few months of the life of their new baby. Doulas are usually either birth doulas or postpartum doulas (although sometimes they provide both services). They provide very different, yet vital roles during the perinatal period. Birth doulas provide prenatal support, are there continuously during labour and birth, and help with the initial postpartum concerns. Postpartum doulas provide the important ongoing support after the baby's birth at home while a new family adjusts to life with a newborn. 

What is a birth doula? 
A birth doula is a professional who: 

  • Recognizes birth as a key life experience that the birthing person will remember forever. 

  • Inform clients and answer their questions with accurate information.

  • Provides emotional support by being encouraging, validating, safe and reassuring. 

  • Provides physical comfort with massage, touch, breathing, relaxation techniques and suggesting positions. 

  • Stays by the side of the labouring person throughout labour and delivery. 

  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of the birthing person. 

  • Assists the birthing person and their partner in preparing and carrying out their plans for birth. 

  • Facilitates communication between the labouring person, their partner and other care providers.

  • Encourages self determination.

  • Compliments the care provided by the birthing person's partner, other family members and friends. 


 Photographer: WMG Photography

What is a postpartum doula? 

A postpartum doula is a professional who: 

  • Provides physical comfort to the new parent by helping them care for their postpartum body.

  • Provides emotional support for the new family by listening to their birth story, validating their experience, supporting the couple into their transition to parenting and by helping siblings adjust to the presence of the baby.

  •  Provides guidance in infant care. 

  • Offers basic household assistance. 

  • Offers day and night shifts. 

Why should I hire a doula?A review by Cochrane on the effects of "Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth." has drawn astonishing conclusions. The primary objective of this review was to assess the effects on mothers and their babies, of continuous one-to-one support as compared to usual care. Fifteen trials involving 12,791 women were included. After review and analysis of the data, the researchers offered the following synopsis: "Continuous labour support reduces a woman's likelihood of having pain medications, increases her satisfaction and chances for "spontaneous" birth and has no known risks. Supportive care during labour may involve emotional support, information and comfort measures. Such care may enhance normal labour processes and thus reduce need for obstetric intervention." The reviewer's offered the following conclusion: All women should have support throughout labour and birth. 

What are the benefits of doula support?
A reduction in: 

  • Caesarean rates 

  • Instrument delivery 

  • Oxytocin use 

  • Epidural requests 

  • Analgesia use

  • Length of labour 

  • Maternal fever and infection 

  • Maternal bleeding 

  • Maternal anxiety 

  • Maternal sense of isolation 

  • Infant and maternity hospital stays 

  • Postpartum depression 


 Photographer: WMG Photography

The Benefits of Doula Support Continued

An increase in: 

  • Maternal sense of control 

  • Maternal pain threshold 

  • Spontaneous vaginal birth 

  • Individualized clinical judgement 

  • Infant breastfeeding 

  • Maternal-infant bonding 

  • Maternal satisfaction with her childbirth experience 

  • Family well-being 

Effects on the health care system: 

  • Lower use of medication 

  • Lower use of hospital beds 

  • Lower use of medical staff 

  • Lower use of emergency services 

  • Dramatic reduction in the cost of obstetrical care 

  • Educated citizens 

  • Focus on preventative rather than palliative care 

​​What are the qualifications of a DAE doula? 

The members of the Doula Association of Edmonton have obtained training and may have a certification from one or more of the following organizations. 

All DAE Doulas must read, sign and abide by the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the association.


 Photographer: Honey Lime Photography


 Photographer: WMG Photography

How do partners and doulas work together? 
When it comes to pregnancy, birth and parenting, partners are accepted members of the birthing person's support team. The partner is expected, among other things, to become familiar with the process and language of birth, to understand medical procedures and hospital protocols and advocate for the birthing person of his or her child in an environment and culture that he or she is unfamiliar with. A doula can provide the information to help parents make appropriate decisions and facilitate communication between the labouring person, their partner, and medical care providers. 

At times, partners may not understand a birthing person's instinctive behaviour during childbirth and may react anxiously to what a doula knows to be the normal process of birth. A doula can be reassuring. 

Partners presence and loving support during childbirth is comforting and reassuring. The love they share with the birthing person and child and need to nurture and protect their families are priceless gifts that only they can provide. With birth a birth partner and a doula, the birthing person can have the best of both worlds: a partner's loving care and attention and the doulas expertise and guidance in childbirth 

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