The role of the birth doula
is to support mothers in labor, in whatever way is needed the most. Mothers birthing in all settings can benefit from
doula care; and each setting (hospital, birth center or home) changes the doula's participation. Before the birth, doulas
help prepare for the journey by encouraging parents to make informed decisions and teaching self-advocacy. In any situation,
the doula is a respectful participant and useful addition during labor. Birth doulas act as a continual resource
for pain management and emotional understanding. The doula can help partners/fathers cope with new and unfamiliar territory.
Following the birth, doulas have experience with getting the baby's latch right - when it is chosen, and in the process of
family bonding. Birth doulas continue to be a resource after the birth and are a source of referrals to health practitioners.
newborns often feel overwhelmed by the new addition to their lives. The postpartum doula role is to help mothers and
families adjust to the changed circumstances. This can take the form of caring for baby while mom gets some
rest, playing with older siblings while mom and dad have some bonding time with baby, helping with light household chores,
listening to the mother's interpretation of birth, aiding in breastfeeding/baby feeding, recognizing the normal patterns of
transition, making referrals to additional health practitioners when necessary, advising on establishing healthy sleep patterns
for the entire family, and/or fixing a meal. Typically, postpartum doulas work with families within the first six months,
but on occasion there is a continued need throughout the first year of childhood.