A doula is a Greek word meaning “woman servant” or “caregiver”, and has been present in many societies for centuries. Women were often attended in their births and supported postpartum by women family members, children and neighbours. The importance of fostering these early relationships is of vital significance as “these early relationships largely determine the future of each family and society as a whole” (dona.org)*.
Today, doulas have been divided into two categories: birth doula and postpartum doula. All doulas undergo training and should be knowledgeable and involved in on-going education.
Doulas do not perform medical procedures such as paps, bloodwork, fetal monitoring, physical examinations, blood pressure etc. Doulas are a proven complement to the team of health care professionals, but not meant to replace a midwife, doctor, or nurse.
Some extended health plans now cover doula care. Please check with yours~!
*Reference: Klaus MH, Kennel JH, Klaus PH: Longer-Term Benefits of Doula Support, Chapter 6, The Doula Book, 3rd edition, Da Capo Press, Boston, 2002.