Who can be with me during my labor and delivery? And what's a doula?
Most hospitals allow one other person in the room in addition to your partner. If you decide to have another person present for your delivery, choose carefully. Make sure that this person will be there to support you and your partner.
A doula can be a great asset to you during labor and delivery. She is trained to help a woman and her partner in different aspects of the birth experience. Many women connect with a doula during pregnancy and begin to form a relationship that helps establish trust and connection for labor. Doula, translated from Greek, means "woman's servant". A doula can provide emotional, educational, and logistical support to you and your partner during the delivery process.
Some doulas will provide support during labor, while other may also offer postpartum support to aid your recovery at home. A postpartum doula can assist with newborn baby care and breastfeeding while you are settling in to your new life with our baby.
It is important to ask for references when selecting a doula. You will want to make sure you spend a fair amount of time with her before birth if she is to act as your labor support person. (you want to feel comfortable with her and trust her).
DONA (Doulas of North America) offers certifications and enhances the level of professionalism and knowledge so that she can be an asset to your experience.
A doula is not a nurse and cannot and should not diagnose, treat, or medicate. However, in a hospital setting, a doula can be an asset to your nurse by offering continued support and physical assistance to you.
Some of the things a doula may do during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum include:
- Offer advice and planning tools during pregnancy
- Help you put a birth plan together
- Offer massage during labor
- Coach you with breathing during pushing or laboring
- Offer assistance while you're in the bathroom, taking shower, or with walking
- Offer position suggestions for pushing or laboring
- Collaborate with your labor nurse
- Offer you support (and help your partner help you!)
- Assist you with breastfeeding and baby care postpartum
- Offer emotional support
- Help take photos during delivery
- Some doulas may offer meal preparation postpartum