Many birth and postpartum doulas are trained and certified through DONA International, the oldest professional organization for doulas.
There are different kinds of doulas:
A birth doula understands the birthing process and the emotional needs of a woman in labor. If you are pregnant, a birth doula will help you develop a birth plan and assist in carrying out your plans during labor and delivery. Your relationship with your doula will start with one or more meetings during your pregnancy. Once you start your contractions, she will stay with you throughout your labor to provide physical comfort, emotional support and help as you make informed decisions.
A postpartum doula can provide you with education, companionship and support after your baby is born. She can assist with newborn care, meal preparation, light household tidying and can help your family adjust to your newest addition. She will also be able to offer evidence-based (scientifically proven) information on feeding, soothing, coping skills and emotional and physical recovery from your labor and delivery.
A bereavement doula is a newer form of support. Although DONA does not offer a bereavement doula training program, many doulas are able to find other programs in their communities and online to receive certification. A bereavement doula can provide assistance, support, resources and referrals to families who are experiencing the loss of their baby. A doula that provides bereavement support may be known by a different title, such as a Baby Loss Family Advisor. These professionals have been trained to help you navigate through the difficult days – from the moment you hear the news to preparing for the hospital experience and for when you return home.
Now that you know what a doula is, tune in next week to learn why you should consider hiring one.
Have questions? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We are here to help.