Your purpose as a doula is help mothers and families prepare for the baby during pregnancy, labor, and after delivery. Because of the all of the different circumstances, there are actually a number of different types of doulas. All of them are important and have complementary roles. Rarely, mothers will have more than one doula to guide them individually during the birth and labor process.
You can be any type of doula you want, even more than one
You are an emotional canvas to reflect the mother’s own feelings and emotions. At the same time, you are the safety net to guide women through the foreign experience of childbirth.
Not all doulas so the same job. Just as some mothers are looking for a companion and coach during the course of their pregnancy, others are looking for guidance during their labor and birth, while other mothers are looking for help in the postpartum period. Let’s go over the different types of doulas.
In the maternity ward, you may be mom’s most trusted figure
No matter the type of doula, your role will be:
- Being a trusted voice in the birthing process
- Providing physical assistance
- Giving emotional comfort
- Answering mom and dad’s questions about birth, labor, breastfeeding and giving them a sense of what to expect
- Helping in the house, with siblings, etc.
Labor and Birth Doula (Labor Assistant)
This is the most common type of doula. Labor/birth doulas guide the mother and family through the labor and birthing process, creating a safe and nurturing environment and helping the natural love and beauty of childbirth shine through. They provide encouragement to mothers from their own personal experiences in childbirth or their experiences working with others. They are teachers and coaches to new mothers.
Doulas provide emotional and physical support, attending to the needs of the family whether it’s a glass of water or guidance on when to go to the hospital. When it come time for the mother to deliver, the labor and birth doula again provides positive support whether she is going through a natural birth, delivery in the hospital or a C-section.
Postpartum Doula (After Birth Doula)
The postpartum doula supports and encourages the family in bonding between mother, father and child. New moms can have a difficult time adjusting to the stresses of a newborn, breastfeeding, sleepless nights, and postpartum blues. The doula’s job is to help mom cope with these stressors. She also teaches the family strategies like creating a parental plan, keeping a log, and finding time for herself.
Antepartum Doula (High Risk Pregnancy Doula)
Antepartum doulas take care of the mother and family during time that she is still pregnant. While not as common, some mothers want the extra support that an experienced doula and friend would bring. The doula can give the mother a sense of what to expect and help create a joyful pregnancy. Antepartum doulas take part in stressful pregnancies due to complications with the mother or unborn baby. Complicated pregnancies are more common than ever and more babies are being more premature than ever. Some expectant mothers are prescribed bed-rest while others have to visit their obstetricians every single day. Antepartum doulas help the mom cope with the added stress by giving emotional support, physical support and helping to answer any questions.
Your caregiving skills are most valuable no matter what type of doula you become
Other Types of Doulas
There are a couple of extras roles that doulas can take on:
- Abortion doula - specializes in helping during the tumultuous process of abortion. Sensitivity and open-mindedness are very important in the practice of an abortion doula.
- Miscarriage doula (loss doula or bereavement doula) - losing a pregnancy is a heartbreaking event for moms. It is a gift to be able to partner with women during this time.
- Adoption doula - helping women through the rocky journey through motherhood - wherever the journey takes us.
Some doulas offer even more than the traditional services for further mother support. You will often find helpful, value-added services such as:
- Placenta encapsulation
- Belly binding
- Mother photography
- Newborn photography
- Breastfeeding support