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What is a Doula?

Formally trained doulas provide tailored care before, during, and/or after birth in the form of:

  • Comfort measures such as soothing touch, massage, counter pressure, water therapy, low light, music, etc.

  • Physical support such as providing food and water, bracing, suggesting positions, sharing movements for optimal fetal placement, etc.

  • Emotional support such as continuous presence, companionship, encouragement, reassurance, nonjudgmental acceptance, debriefing, etc.

  • Information such as guiding, helping to explain options, providing knowledge and evidence-based information, offering non-medical pain relief, etc.

  • Advocacy such as encouraging choice, supporting decisions made by birthing person, facilitating communication between client and health team, amplifying the client's voice, etc.

  • Spiritual support such as helping to work through fears and doubts, maintaining a safe and calm environment, etc.

Doula-client relationships may begin early in pregnancy. A relationship is developed where birth preferences are outlined and any queries, fears, and concerns can be freely expressed.

A doula does not perform a clinical role and does not take the place of a midwife, obstetrician, or nurse.

What is a Birth Plan?

A birth plan or birth path is prepared in advance of your birth. It is a document outlining the wishes and choices you would like to make during the stages of birth and with your baby.

 

This document should be reviewed with your support partner/team, your doula, and your midwife or obstetrician during your pregnancy so that they are aware of your preferences.

 

Creating a birth plan allows you to explore all potential choices ahead of time so that you aren't faced with becoming informed when given options under pressure. ​

Your birth plan might include:

  • relevant information on your medical history

  • an outline of your support team/who you want in your space and what you want from them

  • a detailed description of your preferred birth space

  • your comfort measure preferences

  • ways that you would like to increase natural oxytocin

  • your preferred labouring and birthing positions

  • other wishes for the labour and birth

  • instructions for newborn care and standard procedure preferences

  • your 48 hour - 40 day postpartum preferences

What is Oxytocin?

"Oxytocin has been called the hormone of love because of its connection with sexual activity, orgasm, birth, and breastfeeding. In addition, oxytocin is produced in social situations such as sharing a meal, making it a hormone of altruism or, as Michel Odent regularly suggests, of 'forgetting oneself '.

Oxytocin is also the most powerful uterotonic (contraction-causing) hormone, and its release is associated with the contractions of labour and birth in all mammalian species. Oxytocin is made in the hypothalamus, deep in the middle brain, and is released in pulses from the posterior pituitary into the bloodstream every three to five minutes during early labour, becoming more frequent as labour progresses."

- from Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley

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