What is a Doula?

The word “doula” is based on an ancient Greek term for woman’s servant. In a modern context, a doula is a trained non-medical person who attends a woman, –as well as her partner and/or family–before, during and after childbirth by providing information, physical assistance and emotional support. In a sense, a doula “mothers the mother.” With support from DONA International (suggested link to http://www.dona.org/ webpage), formerly Doulas of North America, San Antonio Birth Doulas hosts regular birth and postpartum doula training workshops. Attending a training workshop is the first step for aspiring doulas, but the skills learned can also benefit anyone working with pregnant women, including counselors, social workers and nurses. Local doulas who attend a DONA-approved birth and postpartum doula training workshop are invited to participate in the SABD Doula University mentorship program If you are interested in learning more about how to become a doula or would like to know when the next doula training workshop will be, contact our office at (210) 222-0988 for more information.

The Doula’s Role

The Doula’s Role: Doulas accompany women in labor to help them have a safe and satisfying birth experience. We draw on our training and experience to provide emotional support, physical comfort, and as needed, communication with the hospital staff to make sure pregnant women have the information they need to make informed decisions. We provide reassurance and encouragement to pregnant women and their partners, make suggestions for labor progress, and help with touch relaxation, positioning, and other techniques for comfort. Your doula works for you – not your caregiver or the hospital. Prior to becoming a contract employee of San Antonio Birth Doulas, every doula must receive birth and/or postpartum doula training through DONA International, as well as pass annual background checks that are mandated by our funding sources and the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

Doula Commitment

• Doulas will schedule two or three meetings prior to delivery to provide prenatal education and support. Doulas will also be on call 24/7 for when that client goes into labor. • Back-up Doula, In the event the assigned doula is not available to attend a birth, i.e., illness, death in the family, or events beyond her control, the doula will arrange for a back-up Doula who will attend the labor and birth. Introductions to meet the back-up Doula during one of the prenatal visits will be arranged. • When labor begins, the doula will provide early labor support as needed. Once active labor has begun, the Doula’s presence and support are continuous for approximately one to two hours postpartum. The doula will use non-medical support techniques and will seek to maintain a calm and peaceful birth environment. After the birth, the doula can assist with connecting SABD’s Lactation Consultants with the client to receive breastfeeding education and support. • In the postpartum period, the doula will visit the client two times in the first three to six weeks where they will share information about your labor and your child’s birth. The Doula will provide education relating to general newborn care, share resource information, teach infant massage, and/or assist with breastfeeding and other postpartum related endeavors as need. Additional visits following the birth are offered through Project Postpartum to help the family adjust to their role as a parent and/or provide resources for parenting programs.

Important: What Doulas Do Not Do:

Do Not Perform clinical tasks. Doulas will not take blood pressure checks, fetal heart checks, perform vaginal or other medical examinations. The Doula is there to provide physical comfort, emotional support and be an advocate for the client and birth team. Do Not Make decisions relating to medical care. The Doula will provide unbiased information so the client can make informed decisions regarding personal care and baby’s care. A Doula will remind a client if there is a departure from the original birth plan. Do Not Provide information to your caregiver and/or hospital staff without your consent. The Doula will discuss options and concerns with the client and partner. It is the responsibility of the partner and/or family to speak on the laboring mothetr’s behalf to the caregiver or the hospital staff. Do Not Take the place of anyone who is part of your birth team. The doula is an additional member of your birth team and part of our responsibility is to help a family become actively involved in the birth (to their level of comfort). Do Not Provide childcare services. The client is obligated to arrange for the care of any minor children and dependents in the household during the labor, birth and hospital stay. Do Not Provide transportation. Clients are responsible for arranging for transportation to the office of their health care provider and/or to the birth facility. Doulas will provide transportation resources if applicable.