A doula’s purpose is to assist women in having positive birth experiences on her own terms. She does this by providing informational support during prenatal visits and gives couples the tools they need to make their own choices. She encourages them to take a moment to think before making decisions and to weigh out the risks and benefits. Should her client wish to use pain medication she supports their choices and provides suggestions on ways to enhance her experience. She offers continuous comfort and encouragement to the woman and her partner regardless of her choices. Ultimately the purpose of the doula is to make the laboring woman and her family feel cared for and respected.
The main responsibility of a doula is to the family she serves. She works for her clients directly, not the hospital or other caregivers. She is responsible for providing the services outlined in her contract and maintaining client confidentiality. She does her best to provide her services to anyone seeking doula care and if she is not able to do so she makes the appropriate referrals. A doula must show professionalism and respect towards her colleagues and their clients. She should be an ambassador for the profession by exhibiting the values, ethic's and mission of DONA International. A doula also has a responsibility to society. She should actively promote positive outcomes for mother’s and their babies in her community and beyond.
A doula’s role is to provide continuous emotional, physical and informational support to the laboring woman and her partner. A doula acts as an advocate for her clients by suggesting they take a moment to think before making decisions. She does not speak on behalf of her clients, rather she encourages them to ask questions and make informed choices. During prenatal visits a doula provides her clients with the information needed to make educated decisions during labour. She demonstrates hands on comfort measures that clients can use during labour such as breathing, massage, position changes, use of the birth ball & visualization. During these visits she also discusses the importance of positive encouragement and providing emotional support during birth. During labour she encourages the partner to participate at his or her comfort level. She is there to provide the partner with an extra pair of hands, a break or a helpful suggestion. She does not perform any clinical tasks or make decisions on her clients behalf. After birth she stays with the family until breastfeeding is established or they are settled in. During the postpartum period a doula visits the family to discuss their birth experience and provide any necessary referrals.
In conclusion, the role of a doula is a powerful one that has a lasting impact on the family she serves and ultimately society as a whole.
References: DONA International Birth Doula Position Paper, Standards of Prctice and Code of Ethics