Members of the Maternity Care Team:
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.
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.
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).
ASK A DOULA
questions will help you decide if a particular Doula is right
for you. You may ask these questions over the telephone or in
* 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
* 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
When you and
your partner meet the Doula, pay particular attention to your
* 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
* 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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