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what is a doula

What is a Doula?

What is a Doula?

A doula is a women who is trained to assist another woman (and her family) during pregnancy, childbirth, and also can provide support to the family after the baby is born. 

There are many ways to train and certify as a doula

Here are some examples (this is not an inclusive list):

Antepartum Doula

Support to families that are experiencing a stressful pregnancy, an otherwise healthy pregnancy with overwhelming variables, or one that comes with medically-directed limitations.*

Labor and Birth Doula

Offer physical and emotional support during labor, as well as informational support before, during, and sometimes after labor.

Postpartum Doula

Focus on post pregnancy recovery, household management, and parent education and support

There are other services that I won’t be highlighting on this blog but are important to note:

Loss and Bereavement, Adoption, Infertility Support, or Teen Pregnancy

Often other services are also offered (once again this list is only an idea of extras that might be offered).  Some doulas have specifics in their scope of practice regarding offering certain services.  Ask a prospective doula in your interview if there is something specific you are looking for.

Here are some Ala Cart options some doulas offer.

Mother photography, newborn photography, more in depth breastfeeding support, placenta encapsulation, aromatherapy, massage, keepsake items, bellybinding, cloth diapers and pads, and more!

YouTube Video discussing “What Is A Doula And Why Are They So Beneficial?”:

What is a Postpartum Doula?

Described in an article on Parent.com  as:

Postpartum doulas have a different role — they enter the picture after a woman has already delivered her baby and they can stay for any length of time, from a few hours here or there during the first week to every day for three months or more. “Their primary goal is continuing to… make sure the mother is well fed, healing, adjusting to motherhood, and bonding with her baby,” Thomas says. Keep in mind that the postpartum doula is not a nanny or a nurse. First and foremost, she is a resource who provides up-to-date information about how to care for a newborn and who reminds the mom about the importance of self-care, too. In a nutshell, a doula’s role is to take care of you and help you transition into your new role as a mother, from helping you stay calm during labor to easing birth pain with various techniques to making sure you’re nourished and hydrated after the baby is home so you’ll have enough energy to take care of him. Talk to doulas you’re considering about what they’re willing and able to do for you (some will even do the dishes so you can spend time with your newborn!).

“The Baby Book” from the Sears Parenting Library  says,

Get a doula. At no time in history have new mothers been expected to do so much for so many with so little help. Cultures around the world have always recognized the importance of mothers and babies nesting-in. In many places a mother is presented with a doula (from the Greek word for “one who ministers), a servant who specializes in mothering the mother (not the baby), relieving her of household chores and interferences that drain her energy away from the baby. Tired mothers, perk up. The doulas are now in North America. Postpartum-care services are springing up all over the land. Try to find one in your community. These gems are well worth the price.

South Dakota Doula’s website states that a postpartum doula:

  • Offers education, companionship and nonjudgmental support during the postpartum fourth trimester
  • Assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tidying
  • Offers evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents and makes appropriate referrals when necessary

According to the American Pregnancy Association,

A postpartum doula provides evidenced based information on things such as infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, mother–baby bonding, infant soothing, and basic newborn care. A postpartum doula is there to help a new family in those first days and weeks after bringing home a new baby.

What must I complete to fully certify with CAPPA as a postpartum doula?

I have 2 years to complete my certification beginning February 2017. The items I need are:

  • 16 hours of in-person training (Completed February 2017)
  • Infant and child CPR certification (Completed April 2017)
  • Completion of CAPPA’s Online Training, CAPPA Academy (I have completed the main exam, I still have essays to write)
  • Submit three evaluations from postpartum doula clients
  • Two letters of recommendation from professionals
  • Complete all readings: 3 manuals, 11 textbooks/books
  • Create a resource list with information on local support for parents

How a Doula Adds Value

Postpartum doulas are the modern version of the community village of women who would surround and support pregnant and laboring women during and after the birth.* Postpartum doula care may even help keep postpartum mood disorders at bay.  With America having the highest incidences of postpartum depression, I am a big proponent of families feeling supported after bringing a new baby home!

What a Postpartum Doula’s Day Will Look Like:

  • Doing whatever the family needs!
  • Provide evidence-based information
  • Support the mother’s recovery
  • Model infant care 
  • Support with breastfeeding
  • Laundry
  • Dishes
  • Light housework
  • Cooking
  • Errands
  • Sibling support
  • Animal care

I have personally witnessed the affects of postpartum mood disorders in both the mother and father. I want to do my part to educate others on the need for support for families after this special life-changing event!

Shannon Ward Doula

It would be my pleasure to offer you Friendly, Never Forced information to help you to Parent with Confidence!


Learn more about my services.

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  • 1024 1024 SWD Thrive After Birth Blog Post
  • 560 315 SWD NPE Scope of practice

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