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A doula (), also known as a birth companion or post-birth supporter, is a nonmedical person who assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth, as well as her spouse and family, by providing physical assistance and emotional support. The provision of continuous support during labour is associated with improved maternal and fetal health and a variety of other benefits, including lower risk of induction and interventions and less need for pain relief. These benefits are particularly significant when continuous support is provided by someone who is not there as family/friend or as medical staff (i.e. a doula). Additionally, a doula is sometimes hired to work with families beyond the postpartum stages, providing continued physical and emotional support, for as long as needed (sometimes, this support can be ongoing for several years).
These days most doulas will have completed at least one 3-day workshop with other birth professionals to prepare them for their role providing continuous labor support. Major doula organizations include DONA, Birth Arts International, Birthing From Within, and CAPPA among others, many of which also provide training in birth-related fields as childbirth education training, lactation education training, and business training, and/or birth trauma counseling as well. While certification is not required since being a doula is a traditional art which goes back centuries, there is a movement to encourage certification, and provide documentation of it on consumer websites such as Doulas and DoulaMatch where mothers can find certified doulas, childbirth educators, yoga instructors, and other birth-related professionals. Doulas not trained by a formal organization can be controversial within medical settings due to a lack of formal medical education when a discussion regarding medical interventions in labor versus pursuing natural childbirth without an epidural or caesarean section arises; however, the role of the doula is not to offer medical advice.
Sometimes the term doula can also refer to a non-medical person who assists critically ill elderly people.Read more...
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