Hello everyone! Today, as many of you ask me this question constantly, I wanted to write a bit about the definition of Doula and where it originated.
The correct definition of a doula is a person with experience and knowledge, who accompanies and gives support, both emotionally and physically, through a significant experience related to health, such as childbirth, pregnancy, postpartum and / or grief.
The word “doula” comes from the Greek and literally means “slave”, a woman who serves. However, in Hindu the term “doula” refers to an “experienced woman”.
The term as we know it today in our culture was first used by the American anthropologist Dana Louise Raphael (1926-2016). After a failed breastfeeding, Raphael began her research on breastfeeding in different cultures. In 1973, she published her doctoral thesis, The Tender Gift: Breastfeeding, in which she appears as an emotional companion as a “doula.” Some years later, two doctors, Marshall Klaus and John Kennell started doing trials, researching the benefits of having a birth companion such as a doula present at births. Their findings were astounding, so in the 90’s they founded DONA international (Doulas of North America), the first Organization to train and certify Doulas. Since then, doulas have evolved into accompanying many important lifetime events, such as pregnancy and postpartum, but there are also grief, end of life, and abortion doulas.
The objective and role of the doula is to help the client feel safe and comfortable, complementing the role of the health professionals who provide the client’s medical care, and the benefits of having a doula present during these events have been observed in multiple studies since the 70’s.
Why is there such a demand for doulas?
“In the time surrounding birth, women need to feel secure”, explains Dr Michel Odent. “They need the sort of protection that is provided by the presence of a mother. But for many reasons special to our time, many women cannot rely on their own mother and the father of the baby cannot also be a mother figure. That is why they need a doula.”
And what does a doula do? Mainly accompany the client. I love that word, accompany. It has been repeated a lot lately in my life. The simple fact of having someone close by, with adequate experience and knowledge to accompany you on any path of life, be it pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, or even grief. A Doula gives you information and tools so that you can guide yourself through these experiences. A doula never replaces the health personnel, we only accompany. A doula can help the mother ask the right questions, so that she can be fully informed during the pregnancy and labor. A doula informs the mother about her rights, so that she can experience the birth that she deserves.
A doula is basically what you need them to be for you in the crucial moments such as pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. A Doula informs you and accompanies you in a familiar way, rather than in a medical way. A doula tries to empower you when you feel surrendered, and takes care of the newly born mother.