Posted by ESC on July 04, 2003
In Reply to: More on doulas posted by pdianek on July 03, 2003
: : I learn something new EVERY day.
: : DOULA -- "A doula supports women and their families in achieving the birth that they desire. Doula's work in homes, hospitals and birth centers. A doula gives, emotional, physical, and informational support. Your careprovider, be they a midwife, OB/gyn or family practitioner will take care of your prenatal care and birth. Your doula will ensure that someone is always available to look after you emotionally and help you to attain the birth you desire." http://www.doula.com/ Accessed July 1, 2003.
: : " 'Doula,' comes from the Greek word for the most important female slave or servant in an ancient Greek household, the woman who probably helped the lady of the house through her childbearing. The word has come to refer to 'a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth.'" (Klaus, Kennell and Klaus, Mothering the Mother) http://www.childbirth.org/articles/whatis.html Accessed July 1, 2003.
: In major US cities, one can now hire a doula -- though not always to accompany the laboring woman through birth! Experienced mothers themselves, doulas for hire (occasionally their week's services are a gift to the new mom from her mother or mother-in-law, or from friends at a new baby shower) will also come to the baby's family home, cook, clean, take care of older children, run errands, make sure phone messages are taken, etc., etc. -- whatever the new mother perceives will aid her, including helping a first-time mom learn how to care for her baby (holding, diapering, recognizing cries, washing -- even breastfeeding, if the doula has breastfed her own children). It is, of course, a commentary on contemporary society that a woman who is practically a stranger (doulas do introduce themselves to the mother-to-be before showing up) is there to help with the transition a new baby presents -- instead of a trusted female member of the extended family.
My maternal grandparents assisted my grandmother at the birth of her first child. My grandmother, a trained midwife, attended her daughters. My generation, sadly, has to make-do with doctors and nurses.