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Doulas as Members of the Maternity Care Team:

Each person involved in the care of the labouring woman contributes to her emotional well-being. However, doctors, nurses, and midwives are primarily responsible for the health and well-being of the mother and baby. Medical care providers must assess the condition of the mother and fetus, diagnose and treat complications as they arise, and focus on a safe delivery of the baby. These priorities rightly take precedence over the non-medical psycho-social needs of labouring women.

The Doula helps ensure that these needs are met while enhancing communication and understanding between the woman or couple and the staff. Many doctors, midwives and nurses appreciate the extra attention given to their patients and the greater satisfaction expressed by women who were assisted by a Doula.

Research Findings:

In the late 1970's, when Drs. John Kennell and Marshall Klaus investigated ways to enhance maternal-infant bonding they found, almost accidentally, that introducing a Doula into the labour room not only improved the bond between mother and infant, but also seemed to decrease the incidence of complications. Since their original studies, published in 1980 and 1986, numerous scientific trials have been conducted in many countries, comparing usual care with usual care plus a Doula all of which confirm the immense value of the Doula.

Doula training is not medical training. It emphasizes the normal course of childbirth, and includes emotional and physical comfort measures. Doulas are professionals at offering reassurance, information about options, and help with breathing, relaxation, movement, positions and hands-on comfort techniques. Doula training emphasizes care that nurses, midwives, midwives' assistants, and doctors may not be able to give because of the priority of clinical responsibilities. Some childbirth professionals offer additional medical services such as vaginal exams or fetal heart tone monitoring. It is the consumer's responsibility to verify that those professionals are adequately trained and experienced in offering medical care.

If you have further questions about Doulas, you may want to contact Simcoe Birth Services at 905.729.3098 (Wendy) or 705.435.3715 (Mélissa).


The following questions will help you decide if a particular Doula is right for you. You may ask these questions over the telephone or in person:

* What training have you had? (You might consider verifying this training with the appropriate organization)
* Tell me (us) about your experience with birth, personally and as a Doula.
* What is your philosophy about childbirth and supporting women and their partners through labour?
* What are the services you provide as a Doula?
* May we meet to discuss our birth plans and the role you will play in supporting me (us) through childbirth?
* May we call you with questions or concerns before and after the birth?
* What care providers have you worked with? In what hospitals have you attended births?
* When do you try to join women in labour? Do you come to our home or meet us at the hospital?
* Do you meet with me (us) after the birth to review the labour and answer questions?
* Do you work with one or more backup Doulas (for times when you are not available)? May we meet them?
* What is your fee? Is any part of your fee refundable if you do not make the birth?
* May we have a list of previous client references? Be sure to call these references to gain insight into this Doula's services.

When you and your partner meet the Doula, pay particular attention to your personal perceptions.

* Is she kind, warm and enthusiastic?
* Is she knowledgeable?
* Does she communicate well?
* Is she a good listener?
* Is she comfortable with your choices or does she seem to have her own
* Do you feel comfortable with her?

You may want to interview more than one Doula to find the right one for you.

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