A DONA certified Doula takes her role and responsibilities to her client very seriously. Following are some guidelines as to what to expect and look for when considering a Doula to assist you in your birth.
The Doula’s Responsibilities
A doula’s responsibility is to always maintain professional integrity. She understands the normal process of birth and is trained in providing physical and emotional comfort to the laboring woman. It is vitally important that she treat all clients respectfully.
Doulas need to always provide honest and fair services. She needs to keep in mind that she is to be a “servant” to others and always be courteous, kind and reliable. If a doula does not agree with a client in certain issues or feels herself unable to meet a clients needs she should refer her to someone who can.
Above all she should maintain the privacy of her her clients at all times unless she is given permission from the mother herself to share details from her birth, and even then use great discretion in doing do.
The Doula’s Role
The Doula’s role is to support the birthing woman and her partner. She should provide information for the couple; both before birth to help them prepare and during birth, if needed, to help them make informed decisions.
The doula provides comfort. She makes suggestions to help the mother cope with the discomforts of labor. She helps with breathing and relaxation techniques, as well as movement and positioning to aid in relief.
She comforts the laboring mother emotionally – providing encouragement and cheering her on when it seems to be getting tough. She also knows when to just be still and quiet and provide a simple, gentle touch. The doula is comfortable working actively with a mother or providing a calming presence for a couple. She allows the partner to participate as much as he is comfortable.
It is not the doula’s place to make decisions for the mother or to judge any choices she may decide to make. Her job is to help mom have the most satisfying and safe birth that she can.
A great analogy is the comparison of a doula to a travel guide. A travel guide provides possible highlights, side trips, modes of travel etc. – she doesn’t take a trip for you and send a pack of post cards when its over. Similarly, a doula guides a couple through the wondrous adventure of labor and birth. She helps mom and dad know a little of what to expect and how to prepare, she guides them through rough spots and may make suggestions – but ultimately she lets them be in control, and choose the path they want to take.