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Doula

  • By: Deborah Davidson
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Coming from the Greek word meaning “a woman who serves,” a doula is a female companion who provides nonclinical support to women before, during, and after childbirth. Doulas recognize the importance of the birth experience for women and work to foster the most positive experience possible. Doulas are experientially and/or formally educated in understanding and meeting women's needs for personalized, empathic, and emotional support; comfort care; nonmedical information; and advocacy during pregnancy and during and after childbirth. While doulas were originally women who were had experiential knowledge but no formal training, professional or paraprofessional certification is becoming increasingly common for doulas specializing in antepartum, birth, and postpartum care.

Doula care is often misunderstood as midwifery. Midwives, however, are trained and licensed to provide antepartum, childbirth, and ...

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