What is a Doula?
noun: doula; plural noun: doulas
- A woman who is trained to assist another woman during childbirth and who may provide support to the family after the baby is born.
- A woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth (Merriam-Webster)
- Origin and Etymology of doula
Modern Greek, female helper, maidservant, from Greek doulē female slave
First Known Use: 1969
- A trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible. (DONA)
All these definitions have similar meaning, maybe less so of a slave, though that can be argued:)
Essentially, the doula's role is to assist the mother during and after childbirth. The support is continuous and the purpose is to help the mother achieve the most satisfying experience possible.
Does the role of a doula then replace the role of the partner/husband and midwife/obstetrician during and after childbirth? No.
Even when a woman has access to no support, during her perinatal period, does the doula fulfil the role of midwife/obstetrician or partner. All three have a very specific 'scope of practice'. But together with the mother can make a powerful team.