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To understand the role of the Doula we must first distinguish it from other caregivers in the birthing process. She is not a doctor, nurse or midwife and is not involved in any medical decisions.

The Doula is trained in and has an understanding of the usual medical interventions so that she can explain to the parents what is happening around them so that much tension or anxiety may be relieved. She forms a bridge between the medical staff and the parents. She also acts as a buffer to unwanted intrusions. Having built a relationship with the mother prior to the birth, the Doula knows what the mother and her partner’s birth plan is and what goals and wishes the parents have for the birth of their child. She becomes the mother’s voice during the labour, when the mother is unable to express herself and makes sure that her needs and requests along with both parents’ wishes are respected. She provides an environment where the mother may feel secure and supported as the mother is aware that the Doula will remain with her throughout the labour and birth. The mother therefore feels cared for and not alone.

Postnatal doulas work flexible hours to suit the family, offering practical and emotional support to the new mother and father in the home following the birth of baby. The Doula is the supporting companion that reassures, encourages and assists in alleviating pain or stress. Research has conclusively shown that mothers who have continuous labour support in the form of a Doula or other female family member can:

  ~  Reduce the length of labour,
  ~  Reduce the likelihood of medication for pain relief,
  ~  Significantly lower the likelihood of a caesarean section,
  ~  Lower the likelihood of assisted deliveries,
  ~  Were less likely to fail to breast feed,
  ~  Reduce the possibility of post natal depression
  ~  And the baby had significantly higher APGAR scores.