There was a time when most childbirths were done at home with the help of a midwife. Midwife-assisted childbirths have, however, decreased and most babies are now born in hospitals.
The role of the midwife has not diminished, though, as they are usually part of a team in the hospital. But according to Bellymama Midwifery, there is again a growing trend to give birth in the home, with assistance from birth companions and partners.
The doula is a birthing companion. Unlike a midwife, a doula has not medical responsibilities, but helps nurture and support the pregnancy, even before labor and birth. They establish a relationship with the pregnant woman and create a sense of trust.
The aim of the doula is to support the client and her partner through the birth process and postpartum if desired. There are doulas who are also nurses and midwives, which helps a lot if a medical need arises. However, the doula is there for advocacy and physical and emotional support.
Not Part of the Role
The doula does not have to act as a medical assistant or a nurse. Even if they are a registered nurse and midwife, the role of a doula is separate. During labor and birth, they are there to provide assistance and support during the birthing process. They are not there to perform any hospital or clinical tasks.
The doula is to complement the partner and enhance the whole experience for both the mother and her partner. They do not give medical advice or diagnoses. They are not to make decisions for the pregnant woman. The doula should remain beside the mother all throughout the birthing process.
These are not restrictions on the capabilities of the doula; rather, these are part of the support they give. The doula is to complement the partner and enhance the whole experience for both the mother and her spouse.
In most instances, the partner is also the labor coach. However, the partner has the option to do as they please, in which case the doula can stand in as the labor coach.