A Brief History of the Doula

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A Brief History of the Doula

woman in white shirt carrying baby girl

When you are starting a family or preparing your family for the arrival of a new baby, you may want to enlist the services of a doula. Doulas have been around for centuries. They regained popularity during the 1970s and 1980s. Today, doulas are once again popular. Families are discovering the benefits they gain when they hire a doula. 

What Is a Doula?

A doula is a nonmedical person who provides emotional and physical support for women and their families throughout their pregnancies. They can also provide information and referrals as needed.

Historically, the role of the doula came about from ancient times when women gave birth at home. While these women often had a midwife present during childbirth, they also had the support of female family members and friends to provide support during the birthing process.

This added guidance and support allowed mothers to be eased through the birthing process. This special birthing support also benefited the midwife since the women helped ensure the mother was comfortable. They could also lend assistance to take care of other basic needs like getting blankets, hot water, etc.

Unfortunately, this type of birthing support faded over the years as more and more women relied on giving birth in hospitals. However, the reemergence of this type of birthing support throughout the pregnancy, during childbirth, and postpartum came about as more and more women explored holistic and natural birth options.

Furthermore, even when women want to give birth in hospitals, they are starting to discover the benefits they can gain by hiring a doula for birth support and postpartum services.

How Does a Doula Provide Birth Support?

First and foremost, a doula is not a midwife. A midwife is a trained and certified medical professional who can deliver babies at home or in a hospital when the pregnancy is considered low-risk. Doulas also do not provide medical advice as a midwife can.

The role of the doula is to provide nonmedical support to the mother and her family. The doula can use holistic approaches, such as meditation or yoga to help the mother. They can also serve as a birthing support partner to prepare the new mother and father, similar to going to Lamaze classes.

When the mother goes into labor, whether at home or in the hospital, the doula remains by the mother’s side. It is not uncommon for expectant mothers in labor to be left alone for periods when at home or in the hospital. Having a doula by your side can help make the birth process less stressful.

During the birth process, the doula remains with the mother and father to provide additional emotional support. In some cases, doulas can help mothers reduce their labor time by helping them feel more relaxed and comfortable without the need for medications.

What Is a Postpartum Doula?

Happy african mother carrying baby in her arm.

The role of a postpartum doula is to provide support after the birth, not just for the mother and baby but the entire family. Unlike a baby nurse, whose primary role is caring for the new baby, a postpartum doula assists the mother and family through the postpartum period.

How Does a Doula Provide Support After the Birth?

During the first several weeks post-birth, new mothers need time to recuperate and be relieved from their normal childcare, household, and work responsibilities. Here in the United States, new mothers are instructed to relax, rest, and sleep whenever their newborn is sleeping.

However, thanks to our busy and active schedules, this is not impossible for many new mothers. Even when taking leave from work, their household responsibilities do not stop. There is laundry to do, meals to prepare, and shopping that needs to be done.

If there are already siblings in the household, the mother’s responsibilities will be ensuring her other children are fed, bathed, gotten to bed on time, taken to school and activities, and so on. It is easy to see why many new mothers feel so overwhelmed and like they are failures because they lack the time to recover from their recent birth.

Fortunately, new mothers can take advantage of postpartum doula services to relax, rest, and get the sleep they need while not having to worry about any of their other responsibilities.

Postpartum Doula Support Is Not New

In fact, in many cultures outside the United States, postpartum doula support is quite common. Other female family members or close friends can take on the role of the doula. Some women also will share doula responsibilities, so the mother, newborn, and her immediate family have the added support they need.

In addition, some cultures even have specific rituals they follow from a few weeks up to six weeks post-birth. As a result of providing postpartum doula support, many women rarely experience postpartum depression. Plus, they have the added benefit of forming stronger bonds with their newborn since they do not have to worry about any of their other responsibilities.

So, if you desire the ability to bond with your newborn and not worry about your other responsibilities after giving birth, you should find a postpartum doula.

What Do Modern Postpartum Doula Services Look Like?

Mother putting her baby to sleep on a bedside baby crib.

Modern postpartum doula services include a wide range of services that families can customize to fit their specific needs. In general, some of the more common duties a postpartum doula will perform for the mother, new baby, and family include:

  • Provide Emotional Support for the New Mother and Family
  • Help the Mother with Physical Recovery
  • Run Errands
  • Offer Advice in Breastfeeding and Newborn Care
  • Assist with Newborn Care (Rocking, Changing Diapers, Bathing, etc.)
  • Prepare Meals for the Family
  • Teach the New Mother Baby Soothing Techniques
  • Provide Sibling Care (Feeding, Bathing, Bedtimes, etc.)
  • Provide Referrals to Other Professional Services (Parenting Classes, Postpartum Support Groups, etc.)
  • Assist with Sibling Transportation (to/from School, Sporting Events, etc.)
  • Help Keep the House Clean

A postpartum doula typically works for a family for a few weeks as they adjust to the new baby in their home and the new mother recovers. However, some families find it beneficial to utilize postpartum doula services longer—up to six weeks. 

Depending on your family’s specific needs, you may have a postpartum doula work anywhere from one to three days a week up to five days a week. The number of hours and days worked each week is entirely dependent on the tasks and duties you want your doula to perform.

Some families also desire to hire a live-in doula, where the doula temporarily lives with the family. If you desire a live-in postpartum doula, you need to ensure that you have private living quarters available for the doula.

How to Find a Postpartum Doula

It is not difficult to find a postpartum doula when you have the desire to have the time to recover after birth and enjoy bonding with your newborn by using a doula staffing agency like Staffing at Tiffanie’s.

Our hiring process begins by listening to you about your family’s needs post-birth. Next, we carefully match you with qualified doulas who fit your expectations and share similar beliefs and values as you do. We also perform background checks and screenings on all candidates.

Once we have matched doulas with you, we help coordinate your interviews. In addition, we are here to provide support and guidance throughout the entire process, including hiring your doula. Last, we can help prepare offers of employment, employment packages, and payroll assistance.

For further information about our postpartum doulas or help finding a postpartum doula, please feel free to contact Staffing at Tiffanie’s at 866-484-5550 today!