There has been a lot going around in the news about placenta encapsulation, and unfortunately, it hasn't been good. Recently, an infant contracted a serious infection days after birth and the CDC has speculated that contaminated placenta capsules might be to blame.
A recent article issues by Global News states that:
"The CDC concedes there’s no way of knowing that the placenta pills were the definitive culprit in sparking the baby’s illness (even if GBS showed in samples from the pills). Family members could have given the infection to the baby.
The CDC also suggests that in the encapsulation process, the placenta may not have been cooked for long enough to destroy any germs or bacteria.
'Heating at 54C for 121 minutes is required to reduce Salmonella bacterial counts…In this case, heating for sufficient time at a temperature adequate to decrease GBS bacterial counts might not have been reached,' the report reads."
While there is no way to know what caused the infants illness, we realize the importance of addressing this story with our valued clients to ensure they feel well taken care of. We here at Lake Country Doulas are all trained through the International Placenta and Postpartum Association (IPPA). We process all our placentas at 160 degrees for the entire duration (roughly 14-16 hours or more) until the placenta is completely dehydrated. We take great pride in the preparation of each and every placenta and we seek to maintain the highest standard of quality and excellence with every client we serve.
We are proud to have provided placenta encapsulation to well over 300 families, and we look forward to continuing to work with the wonderful people of this community.
The Association of Placenta Preparation Arts (APPA) has issued a statement regarding this story, so feel free to click here and read it for more details.
We would also be more than happy to speak with you directly, so please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have.
The Lake Country Doulas Team
We are fortunate to have so many amazing splash pads in Orillia! Check out this list of splash pads in our area with our honest reviews. Let us know what you think, or if we missed anything!
Clayt French Park is a great park, complete with splash pad, washrooms, playground and one of the Orillia's only dog parks! This park can get busy, but we've found it to be one of the quieter parks in the area on average. There are picnic tables close to the splash pad where parents can sit while their kids play. Perhaps the only downfall of this park would be for older kids, as the playground itself is geared towards younger children (a plus, however, for parents with little ones).
Tudhope Memorial Park is right on the water, which makes going from the splash pad to the lake a breeze. There is a good shaded area with picnic tables for sitting, all of which is in close proximity to the splash pad itself. Some parents aren't huge fans of how close the splash pad is to the water, but others find it a plus. There are washrooms, an awesome walking trail (with some of Orillia's most beautiful views), and playground suitable for all ages. Oh! And we can't forget the great chip truck and ice cream parlour on site as well!
McKinnell Square Park is located near Dairy Queen and the adjacent baseball diamond. It's not as big as the other splash pads in the Orillia, but it does have lots of room to run and a great playground. Also... it's within walking distance to DQ, so... need we say more?
Victoria Park is probably one of the city's oldest (if not the oldest) splash pads. It originally started as a wading pool, but that got ripped out a few years ago and was replaced with the splash pad that's there today. It's one of the city's smaller splash pads, and there is little to no shade, but it's a decent choice (especially if you are in the area and looking for a quick spot to stop and cool off). The playground is good and it's in close proximity to downtown and the library. Perhaps the main downfall of Victoria Park is the fact that parking is scarce and only on the street (though there is a two hour limit for street parking, which means it's still free at least!)
Hillcrest Park has a great and spacious splash pad, but the playground is only okay (as it's pretty tiny). There is, however, a great shaded area in the centre of the park with lots of picnic table seating. There are benches around the splash pad for parents to sit in close proximity to their kids playing, which is nice! Also, from what we've experienced, the park is never overly busy. Once again, the main downfall of the park is the parking situation, which is free but not plentiful as it's all street parking. All in all, however, we like this park a lot!
For more information about the parks and their locations, click here.
As moms ourselves, we LOVE to enjoy Orillia's splash pads and parks. Tell us how we did with our review by leaving a comment, and let us know if you have anything to add.
Happy summer, everyone! Get out there and enjoy!
Your friendly Orillia Doulas,
- Alannah and Samantha
Milk supply can be a struggle for some new moms, but don't worry, Lake Country Doulas has you covered with a delicious way to increase supply while enjoying freshly baked cookies! Sounds too good to be true, we know!
These lactation cookies are chalk full of ingredients that will help give your supply a boost (like flax seed, oats and brewers yeast!), as well as give you some much needed energy to face the day with your baby. And with healthy ingredients like whole wheat flour, oats, natural peanut butter and apple sauce, you don't have to feel guilty about indulging in these yummy treats! Pair with a cup of your favourite nursing tea, and you've got a nutritious breakfast on the go.
Try it out and let us know what you think!
Pro tip: not into baking? Did you know your postpartum doula will gladly make you all the lactation cookies you'd like while you take time to nurse, rest and recover? For more information about hiring a postpartum doula, serving Orillia, Barrie, Newmarket and Muskoka, click here!
Lake Country Lactation Cookies
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup ground flax
3-4 tbsp brewers yeast
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar (cut in half to reduce sugar, if desired)
2 tsp vanilla
2 cup chocolate chips or raisins (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in bowl.
3. In a different bowl, beat peanut butter, brown sugar, vanilla, brewers yeast, flax, apple sauce, eggs and water.
4. Gradually beat in flour mixture to wet mixture.
5. Mix in chocolate chips. Add oats slowly, mixing along the way.
6. Make 1 inch balls with batter and press down on greased cookie sheet.
7. Bake for 12-14 min.
8. Let cool and ENJOY!
These cookies freeze really well, so pop some in the freezer if you'd like!
I will never forget the moment we decided to give our son formula for the first time.
After days of trying to breastfeed without luck, my midwife told me it was time to consider supplementing. It was questionable whether or not I’d be able to breastfeed to begin with, given that I’d had two breast reduction surgeries, but I was optimistic. However, there was no more optimism left in me. My big 9 pound 7 oz baby boy had dropped too much weight, and waiting any longer to nourish him would compromise his health.
After the midwife left, my husband and I looked at each other, puzzled, unsure where to begin. No one had taught us how to prepare formula. No one talked to us about bottles or sterilization. While I was nursing I had swarms of people around me willing to help, but as soon as we made the choice to formula feed, everyone was gone.
Everything was so unknown. I didn’t know what to expect and I felt very alone in that moment. Hurtful words from a few of my mommy friends lingered in my mind. Sweeping generalizations about the “dangers” of formula feeding ran through my head like a broken record. I suddenly felt like a terrible mother.
Because I literally didn’t know where else to turn, I reached out to a friend who I knew formula fed her children. I cried as I explained to her our situation, and she graciously came alongside me and supported me as I began my formula feeding journey.
I can honestly say that she was my only true supporter during this time, other than my husband (who was absolutely amazing!) She came over to my house and showed me how to prepare formula. She told me the brands she liked, which ones had worked for her. She showed me how to properly sterilize bottles with an amazing invention called a microwave steam sterilizer. She told me stories about her own journey, and how bottle feeding had given her a bond with her son that she never felt when she’d nursed him. She celebrated with me when my son took his first sips from the bottle. She was my doula through that tough time. She was a huge source of comfort for me and my husband, and I will forever be grateful to her for what she did for us.
After a few weeks, we’d gotten the hang of bottle feeding and I won’t lie… it was awesome! It just worked for our family and my son thrived! I realized that all those scary generalizations about formula feeding were just that… generalizations (many of them not founded on any actual, concrete evidence.) They didn’t hold weight or bearing in my life. My son was going to show me who he was and what he was capable of.
I learned a few more things during this time. I learned that, contrary to my original thinking, I was NOT a terrible mother for giving my son formula. I was, in fact, the exact opposite. I was a loving mother. A providing mother. I was being wise. I did the right thing for me in my situation and to this day, I have no regrets.
I also learned that everyone needs someone when the going gets tough. We humans need support, we aren’t meant to do this life alone. Thankfully, I did have my amazing husband, but he didn’t know a lick more about formula feeding than I did back then (we have since both become pros!) My friend (who I affectionately refer as my “formula feeding doula”) was exactly the kind of support a new, young mom needs in those rough times in motherhood. She was non-judgmental, knowledgeable, kind and understanding. I wanted so badly for more mothers to experience the support I had received through her, so I promised myself that I would do everything in my power to support other mothers in their various parenting decisions. And so I became a doula.
It is now my absolute pleasure to be able to help mothers achieve their feeding goals - whether breast OR bottle. I am happily pro-mom, meaning that I believe it is the mother’s right to receive non-judgmental support for all her parenting choices (whether with feeding, birthing or other!)
Fast forward almost three years later. My son will be three in July. He is smart, tall, kind, healthy, and he talks as well as the average 5 year old. He is everything he should be and more. My bond with him is like nothing I have ever experienced before. We are closer than close. He loves me and needs me. I couldn’t imagine being more in love. He now has a brother. A smart, tall, kind, healthy brother. I nursed his younger brother for much longer than I did him, but my bond with them both is the same. Strong.
Summertime in Orillia, Barrie and Muskoka is always busy with tons of fun family events to enjoy! To ensure you’re aware of all the exciting things taking place in our region this summer, Lake Country Doulas has put together a helpful list of events for your reference.
Every Saturday - The Orillia Farmers’ Market takes place every Saturday at the Orillia Public Library. The Market is a perfect spot to purchase locally made goods and foods, including farm fresh produce, gift items and more! Lake Country Doulas plans to host a booth at the Market sometime this summer, so stay tuned for more details about that in the weeks to come! For more information about the Orillia Farmers’ Market, click here.
Here in Orillia we are fortunate to have two farmers markets on Saturday mornings! Our families often make a morning of it and check out both. The other Saturday market is located at ODAS Park. More information about that market can be found here.
Saturday, June 10 and 17 - Lake Country Doulas will be hosting our Dive Deep Into Birth childbirth class. This class is perfect for couples considering a natural childbirth, and costs $150 for the weekend. For more information on this class, click here.
Friday, June 9 - Saturday, June 10 - Spring Boat, Cottage and Outdoors Show is an exciting festival for every outdoor enthusiast! Taking place at the Port of Orillia, this is a show you won’t want to miss!
Saturday, June 24 - A tribute to the most wonderful time of the year: Christmas in June! Boats decorated in Christmas gear? Sign us up!
Saturday, June 24- Canada and Orillia's 150th Birthday Celebration at ODAS Park! This FREE event is from 11am-3pm and will involve children's activities, a free BBQ, free roller skating and more!
Saturday, July 1 - Happy 150th birthday, Canada! Enjoy live entertainment, free cake and parade at the Orillia Canada Day Celebration!
Friday, July 14 - Sunday, July 16 - 40th Annual Orillia Scottish Festival is a celebration of Scottish culture and heritage. Enjoy a parade through downtown, pipe and drum competition, live entertainment, vendors and more! Taking place at Couchiching Park.
Saturday, July 29 - A street festival like no other featuring food food, shopping, live music and more at Downtown Orillia’s Summer Block Party!
Friday, August 4 - Monday, August 7 - Celebrate the long weekend by taking the kids to Rotary-Lions Annual Funfest featuring midway, games and vendors!
Friday, August 11 - Sunday, August 13 - Orillia’s Waterfront Festival has lots to see and do, including an in-water boat show and lots of great shopping. Taking place at Couchiching Park.
Saturday, August 19 - The Annual Classic Car Show is a great event for car lovers of all ages, with over 400 classic cars on display!
Friday, August 25 - Sunday, August 27 - The 3rd Annual Orillia Rib Fest has a lot to offer: live music, great shopping and, of course, some of the world's most delicious ribs. (Oh, and try “The Blooming Onion”, you’ll be glad you did!)
For more information on any of these events, click here.
Sunday, June 25 - Kids Fishing Day is hosted by Kempenfelt Rotary Club and is a day devoted to teaching kids to fish! It's free and lots of fun, so be sure to check it out!
Wednesday, June 28- In Celebration of Canada 150, there will be a FREE Air Show featuring the Snowbirds and CF-18 Hornet over Kempenfelt Bay. Canadian Forces Base Borden will be set up all day in Heritage Park with displays and a kiddie commando course. The air show will take place at approximately 6pm.
Sunday, July 1 - Canada Day festivities taking place at Barrie's waterfront!
Friday, August 5 - Sunday, August 7 - Kempenfest is a Barrie long weekend tradition and features something for everyone, with over 300 artisans, an antique show, food vendors, midway, children's activities, and an amazing line-up of live entertainment.
For more information on these exciting events, click here.
One of our favourite farmers markets is located in Gravenhurst every Wednesday from 9am to 2pm down at the Wharf.
Sunday, July 1 - Canada Day celebrations are taking place all around Muskoka. To check out the celebration taking place in your city, click here.
Saturday, July 22 - Santa Fest is coming to Bracebridge! A celebration of Christmas taking place in July, enjoy a Santa Claus parade, food vendors, entertainment and, of course, photos with Old Saint Nick himself!
Saturday, August 5 - The Urban Slide is coming to Huntsville! Register ahead of time by clicking here and ride this amazing 1000 foot Slip N' Slide down main street Huntsville!
Something to enjoy anywhere is the 2017 Parks Canada Discover Pass! To celebrate Canada's 150th Birthday you can enjoy free admission to national parks and historic sites across the country. To get your pass visit the government site here.
Any other exciting family events and festivals happening this summer? Let us know in the comments so we can add them to our list!
Placenta encapsulation has been around for thousands of years but has really gained in popularity just over the last few years. Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Katherine Heigl, and Alicia Silverstone have helped bring awareness to the practice and make it more mainstream.
At Lake Country Doulas we serve clients from Muskoka down to Toronto and everywhere in between such as Orillia, Barrie, Collingwood, Alliston, and Newmarket. Many expectant parents are curious about the benefits but don’t know all the details as to how the process works! Here are some of the most common questions that our clients ask us.
1. What is your training to be able to encapsulate placentas?
Both of our certified doulas, Samantha and Alannah, received their professional training through IPPA (Formerly Full Circle Placenta). IPPA is one of the largest, most trusted placenta encapsulation training organizations in North America.
2. What are the benefits of placenta encapsulation?
Some of the benefits reported by our clients include:
3. What are the risks?
The main risk would come from improper handling of the placenta prior to, or during the encapsulation process. This is an important reason to choose a properly trained, experienced encapsulation specialist. Some reported negative side effects include jittery feeling (like you consumed too much caffeine), sleeplessness, and possibly oversupply of milk. These potential side effects are rare. If you have any questions about these, please talk to your placenta specialist!
4. What is the difference between the raw and TCM inspired (steamed) methods of encapsulation?
The raw method is taking the placenta and slicing and dehydrating it from its raw state. In the TCM/steamed method we first lightly steam the placenta. We are often asked which method is better. If the client does not have a preference, we recommend the raw method as it preserves the most amount of the hormones/nutrients of the placenta as well as yields the most amount of capsules.
5. How do you sanitize your equipment?
All of our equipment is sanitized twice (once before and after each client) using a bleach/water solution. Much of our materials is single-use and thrown away after each client- such as cutting boards, sponges, paper dehdrator tray covers, etc.
6. Do I have to handle the placenta?
You do not personally have to do anything physically with your placenta! Your midwife or nurse will take care of placing it in a bag and in the cooler for you.
7. If I have medications administered during birth (antibiotics, pain medication, a cesarean, etc) can I still encapsulate my placenta?
Yes absolutely. All the medications used in birth are safe for encapsulation. If you were to have a cesarean birth you can still have your placenta encapsulated. It may be even more beneficial due to the often more difficult recovery from surgery.
8. How do I get it to you? When will I get my capsules back?
We come the day you give birth to pick up the placenta. We come wherever you gave birth whether you are at home or one of the many hospitals we service. We strive to have your capsules back to you the next day. If there is going to be a delay (due to other clients or prior obligations) we will let you know when we pick it up.
9. How many capsules does it make? And how many do I take?
The amount of capsules varies depending on the size of the placenta. The average is anywhere from 125-175 (sometimes 200+!) capsules. You take the highest dosage in your early postpartum, our recommendation is generally 2-3 capsules, 2-3 times a day. After the first 10-14 days you may taper down the dosage to where you are only taking 1-2 per day or just as needed. We only provide guidelines and encourage you to take them based on your own postpartum feelings and needs.
10. How much does it cost? What other placenta services do you provide?
Beyond basic encapsulation, we provide tinctures, smoothies, salves, placenta prints, and more! For a full list of services and our current prices- please visit the fees page of our website.
To inquire about booking services, please see our Contact page. We look forwarding to working with you in achieving a better postpartum!
Mother's Day is right around the corner. And if you are like me (or my husband!) you probably procrastinate on getting gifts for most occasions. Not to worry! This year we have lots of ideas perfect for families with little ones! These ideas aren't too challenging and won't break the bank, but will have the sweet mom in your life saying "awwww".
First let's talk about the DIY projects. Moms of young children love getting homemade presents. I am particularly fond of ones involving the little kids hands and feet. Those sweet little toes are only that size once, so creating a keepsake for mom is priceless. This is also a way to involve even the tiniest, newest members of your family. So even if you are a new family with only a baby please still do something for Mother's Day! Even though your baby will have no idea what is going on, Mom definitely will appreciate the thought and time you put in.
To save on cost check out the dollar stores! You can buy paint, canvases and most other basic crafting supplies for a fraction of the cost of the craft store.
Here are some wonderful craft ideas. All pictures link to the original tutorials:
This sign would also look great on a canvas!
This mom used a rainbow stamp pad. If you don't have one you can just paint your baby's feet whatever colours you would like!
I found this photo on Pinterest. You can use hands or feet like shown, or with older toddlers and kids you can just let them decorate it however they want. Small flowers for planting are readily available this time of year at many grocery stores, Walmart, or local garden centres.
Here is a fabulous idea if you have older kids that can be trusted with glass. Help them paint a wine glass and buy Mom a bottle of her favourite wine to go with it!
If painting isn't your thing, here are some other ideas Mom will love:
Just remember this day is all about making sure Mom feels loved and appreciated for all she does while letting her just enjoy a day of the "fun" parts of being a mom (you'll get your day next month!). Allow her to rest and get in some kid snuggles by helping a little extra around the house, crossing off a couple items on the "honey-do" list, and skipping going to your buddy's house to watch the hockey game. I promise you will totally make her day!
We’ve always known there was something to it, but it’s official! Delayed cord clamping is now recommended by the The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)!
Delayed cord clamping is when the umbilical cord is not clamped and cut immediately after birth. In fact, many parents choose to wait until the cord has stopped pulsating, or until the placenta is born before clamping and cutting the cord. The ACOG has a more conservative recommendation and advises a wait of 30-60 seconds prior to clamping the cord for healthy infants. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends waiting at least a full 60 seconds and no less. In the end, the parents have the final say as to how long the wait will be before cutting the cord.
Wondering what all the fuss is about and why delayed cord clamping is so beneficial? Here’s what the ACOG says:
“In preterm infants, delayed umbilical cord clamping is associated with significant neonatal benefits, including improved transitional circulation, better establishment of red blood cell volume and decreased need for blood transfusion. It also lowers the incidence of brain hemorrhage and an intestinal disease called necrotizing enterocolitis. For term infants, it increases hemoglobin levels at birth and improves iron stores for several months, which helps prevent iron deficiency during the first year of life. Iron deficiency has been linked to impaired cognitive, motor and behavioral development.” (www.acog.org)
So, in summary, infants have a better chance of avoiding blood transfusion, brain hemorrhage AND necrotizing enterocolitis (a serious disease which damages and kills the intestinal tissue) when delayed cord clamping is imposed! Not to mention the increase in baby’s iron storage, which will greatly assist in baby’s brain development and lessen their risk of becoming anemic! Amazing, right?
At this point you might be asking why on earth anyone would NOT delay cord clamping. Well, there are a few good reasons to avoid it:
There is a small increase of jaundice (yellow colour of the skin and whites of the eyes that takes place when there is too much bilirubin in the blood) in newborns who have experienced delayed cord clamping, but studies show that this increase of jaundice is not at clinical levels requiring any medical treatment.
Side note: it’s important to state that, according to the most recent study done by the ACOG, delayed cord clamping does not increase the chance of maternal hemorrhage as was once thought.
Overall, delayed cord clamping gets a strong 'YES!' across the board from all the major health care organizations, making it something for every parent to consider. Pausing to cut the cord for even a few minutes could greatly benefit your baby!
And that is the 411 on delayed cord clamping!
As doulas, we have many tricks and props we can use to help a mom be more comfortable and avoid unnecessary pain in labour. One of the most frequently used tools is the birth ball! The birth ball is just a regular exercise ball that you can purchase at any Walmart or sporting goods store. Read on to find out some of the ways we recommend using the ball during pregnancy, labour and in your postpartum period!
Let’s talk about baby positioning. The most optimal position for baby to be in when you start labour is called LOA. This position means baby’s back is against mom’s front on the left side. Baby would be looking at mom’s back. Alternatively, having baby’s back is against the mother’s back can lead to painful back labour contractions. Labour is often longer in this situation as well.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, the birth ball may be able to help ensure baby is in an ideal position. Doing exercises that create a “baby hammock”, like laying over the ball as shown below, is often recommended!
Another way to promote good fetal positioning is trying to maintain good posture during pregnancy. This can definitely be hard late in pregnancy when you get to the end of a long day and just want to lounge on the couch watching Netflix! But not to worry! You can still binge watch your shows, but try sitting on the birth ball instead of lying back in the recliner or slouching on the couch. Besides being able to maintain good posture, sitting on the ball and doing small hip circles and "figure-eights" with your hips can help lower the baby further down into your pelvis! A perfect option since we want baby nice and low when labour begins.
If during birth you experience back labour, we may recommend you have a few of your contractions (also known as waves or surges!) while in the hands and knees position. Having the ball to lean over takes pressure off your wrists, as well as allows you to gently rock or sway if you desire. In this position we, your doulas, have full access to your back to apply massage, counter pressure, hip squeezes, or to use a long piece of fabric called a rebozo to aid in additional comfort.
As your doulas, we may recommend labouring in an upright position to take advantage of gravity, which may help labour progress quicker. So, (unless you should be sleeping!) we usually recommend you are standing, walking, or sitting upright as much as possible while labouring. When it comes to hands-on comfort measures, the most common place a labouring mothers want to be touched is on her back. The birth ball can be a great place for her to sit, giving doula her or partner access to her back to provide massage or counter pressure, or to once again use the rebozo.
I had a newborn who much preferred to be bounced then to be rocked when he was fussy. The best way to soothe him was to swaddle him up tight and bounce away on my ball, as shown below.
Another great way to use your ball with your new baby is for gas relief! Laying your infant on the ball on their tummy, then gently rolling them back and forth, can help them pass gas or burp!
Once you have been cleared by your doctor you can start using your ball to strengthen your postpartum core. During pregnancy and in your initial postpartum period you want to avoid doing typical abdominal exercises, such as crunches, until you are fully healed and have been evaluated for diastasis recti. Diastasis recti is the vertical separation of your two sets of abdominal muscles. This is caused by your growing uterus pushing your muscles apart during pregnancy. Having diastasis recti can leave you with the "pooch" lower abdomen as well as cause pelvic floor dysfunction. While this condition is very common and usually treatable without surgery, doing certain exercises can make it worse. Please consult with your doctor or midwife before beginning any exercise routine after birth.
That said, there are many common exercises that can be done using your ball! Two of my favourites are planks on the ball (great for core strength without causing or aggravating diastasis recti) and wall squats.
These are just a few of the many ways we use the birth ball before, during and after the birth of your baby! The possibilities are endless, which is why we highly recommend purchasing one. For more information about choosing the correct size of ball, click here.
To end our celebration of World Doula Week 2017, we are giving away a birth ball! We like this Everlast Stability Ball because it is weighted, which makes it more stable. Head on over to our Facebook Page to enter the contest! The winner will be randomly chosen on April 3, 2017.
The word “doula” is derived from an ancient Greek word that is becoming increasingly more mainstream in today’s modern times. In ancient Greek the word means “female servant” and does not specifically have anything to do with childbirth.
In 1969 Dr. Dana Raphael first used the term doula in a study discussing how the role of a female caregiver during birth and postpartum had a positive impact on breastfeeding. The term became more widespread in the 1970s and 1980s as the role of a doula became broader but more defined. This was also a time in medical history when the birth process in North America had gone through dramatic changes. Birth had moved away from homes and midwives and became increasingly more medicalized. Micromanaged hospital births and an alarming amount of unnecessary interventions were seen only as amazing advances in modern medicine with no thought of the possible negative long-term effects. Many women did not want to birth this way and knew they would need emotional, physical, and educational support to give birth “differently” then most women of that time were doing.
While using the term “doula” to describe this type of support started in North America, and only in the last 50 years, the care provided by a doula is not a new concept. Throughout all of history, across most geographical locations and demographics, women have provided support to other women during birth; not just a single midwife, but usually multiple women fulfilling different roles during the birth. This was often family members or women of the village or tribe who had experience in childbirth.
Doulas now are held to a specific scope of practice. They are strictly non-medical professionals who can provide a wealth of educational, physical and emotional support for women during pregnancy, birth and the immediate postpartum period. Doulas now are not just women! A small but expanding number of doulas are men. As a profession, doula care is growing. Doulas are now able to create a sustainable career doing what they love. With more reputable training organizations and continuing education options available, a doula can offer even more support to expectant families.
The medical community is also backpedalling, their research showing that “less is more” when it comes to medical intervention and the powerful impact the role of a doula can have on both the physical outcome and emotional satisfaction of a birth.
Doulas today are also not just for birth! The role of a doula to provide educational, emotional and physical support is applied to many stages of life. Here are some of the most common types of doulas:
Birth Doulas provide support during pregnancy, birth and the immediate postpartum. This includes prenatal education and emotional support through email and phone communication, as well as prenatal meetings. During the birth the doula will be present, providing support to the laboring mother and her partner (and sometimes the couple’s other children, if present). After the baby has been born she is available to help with feeding support (breast or bottle), newborn care and questions the mom has about her postpartum recovery.
Postpartum Doulas provide education and practical support to the mother, newborn and family in the first days, weeks and sometimes months after birth! Their role continues where the birth doula left off. They are a wealth of knowledge about newborn care and tips. They also provide practical support such as light housework, cooking, running errands and tending to the newborn so the mother can rest, shower, or go out for some fresh air!
Fertility Doulas can help families who are struggling to get pregnant. They provide educational support by explaining the various tests, treatments and alternative care options available in their community for those facing infertility. She provides emotional support through the overwhelming disappointment and stress that often comes with going through fertility treatments.
A Bereavement Birth Doula has received special training to care for the emotional and physical needs of a family who is experiencing a loss through miscarriage, stillbirth, or an anticipated loss through a terminal diagnosis of an unborn baby. Like a birth doula, they can provide support during pregnancy, birth, and after the loss. In the days, weeks, months, (years!) after, this doula can help the family navigate the emotional waters of grief as well as connect them to other local resources.
End of Life Doulas support to people through the dying process, at any age. These doulas are commonly employed through hospices, hospitals and nursing homes. They provide companionship and encouragement to dying patients. They also provide comfort to the patients loved ones if present.
Doula work truly is a "labour of love". Regardless what stage of the human life a doula is supporting, the type of care remains the same. Compassionate, unbiased, nurturing care.
“The ancient Greek “doula” was there to listen and follow the wishes of the mother, offering her services and life experience, but also aware of the humbleness her position asked for.”
-[International Doula Journal, Vol. 21, Issue 1, 2013]