noun: doula; plural noun: doulas
a woman who gives support, help, and guidance to another woman during pregnancy and during and after the birth. “from admission through delivery, a doula stayed at her assigned patient’s side”
That is a Doula in a nutshell.
My thoughts on what a Doula is:
A Doula is a woman that is familiar with birth, with how labour and birth unfolds, with how birth can be the most beautiful experience, but how it can also peak, ebb and flow, sometimes taking a woman to her most challenging peaks, sometimes to a low ebb and also can flow beautifully at other times.
A Doula understands the importance of a woman feeling safe for her hormones to work to support her during labour. Having a familiar face can be incredibly reassuring for both the birthing mum and, if applicable, her partner. Someone that understands birth, she will look forward to spending time with you, and have time to listen antenatally, to get to know you and your family and understand your birth hopes and wishes, she will guide and support you antenatally, during birth and postnatally. Someone that will ensure you have all of the information you need if any decisions need to be made. Someone that will be at the end of the telephone at any time of day or night, without an agenda. To ensure you feel 100% supported both emotionally and practically.
A Doula has a toolkit, knowledge and wisdom to draw on, she can offer massage, essential oils, rebozo sifting and other comfort measures should you need them. She will ensure you remain hydrated and sustained. She will be keeping a close eye on your partner too (if applicable) and ensuring they are supported both practically and emotionally too.