What is a doula?
A doula is a professional and highly-trained support person who helps new and expectant parents navigate through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. There are two categories of doulas: birth doulas and postpartum doulas.
What is a birth doula?
A birth doula meets an expecting family during pregnancy and helps them to navigate pregnancy and prepare for birth. Our team approach at Toronto Family Doulas ensures you also have an intimate relationship with your back-up doula. During pregnancy, your doula is available to you to answer any questions you may have, recommend local practitioners, provide information and resources, and help you to best prepare for your birth.
When you’re in labour, your birth doula provides you with continuous support. She will make suggestions to help your labour to progress and to make you more comfortable. She is well-versed in positions, massage, comfort measures, rebozo, and acupressure to make you as comfortable as possible. Your doula will answer any questions you may have as your labour progresses and help make sure you have the time and information you need to make any decisions that may come up in your birth.
Your birth doula will stay with you for an hour or two after delivery to make sure you’re settled in and will do a follow-up visit in the first few days after birth. She is available to you for information and resources in the immediate postpartum period.
What is a postpartum doula?
A postpartum doula can meet you during pregnancy (or she may meet you once your baby has arrived) and will help you to prepare for life with your new baby. Once your baby is here, your postpartum doula will come into your home and support you while you transition into life with a new baby.
Every family is unique and has different needs, so postpartum support can look quite different from family-to-family. What doesn’t change is the professional, judgment-free support you can expect from Toronto Family Doulas.
Some things your postpartum doula can help you with include:
- Feeding help: whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, your postpartum doula can help you to know how best to feed your baby, how to know if they’re getting enough, and how to set up systems to make feeding as comfortable and efficient as possible.
- Normal Newborn Information: your postpartum doula is an expert in normal newborn characteristics and behaviour. She can answer your questions about what’s normal, and help you to get to know your baby.
- Light tidying, laundry and housekeeping: you don’t need to worry about sweeping the floor or getting your dishes done. Your postpartum doula is happy to help you with these tasks so you can focus on your new baby.
- Running errands: your doula is happy to run out to grab something from the store, or to help you with your first errand run with a baby.
- Baby care: you might want your postpartum doula to care for the baby while you shower or nap, or you might want your doula to assist you with diapering, bathing, calming etc so you have the skills and confidence to do it on your own.
- Meal preparation: your postpartum doula can help make sure you have your favourite meals stocked in your fridge and freezer so you always have something ready to eat.
How are doulas trained?
There are a variety of doula training organizations out there. At Toronto Family Doulas, all of our doulas are trained at an in-person training from a credible training organization. All of our doulas are trained by one or more of ProDoula, DONA, Birthing From Within, and CAPPA. We are committed to continuing education, and achieving and maintaining certification.
Can a doula help me to get more sleep at night?
Toronto Family Doulas has a great team of postpartum doulas who are happy to provide our families with overnight support. This service is also sometimes called night doula or night nannies.
Our doulas will come into your home in the evening and will check in with you before sending you off to bed. If you have questions or concerns, we’re happy to answer them.
Through the night, your doula will provide loving and attentive care for your baby. When you baby is hungry, your doula can either bring her to you to be breastfed or feed her a bottle. Between feeds, your doula will burp, change, and calm the baby back down – all while you sleep!
Our families who choose night support feel much better getting some good sleep.
How do I know if I have found a good doula?
• Is she trained/certified?
• Is she experienced?
• Does she work in partnership so you know who your back-up doula is?
• Is she available for your due date?
• Will she work well with your care provider?
During your meeting with your doulas, please ask any questions you may have and get to know her personality and style. The most important part to this decision is the feeling you get from her. Do you feel comfortable in her presence? Could you imagine being vulnerable around her?
Are doulas only for unmedicated births?
At Toronto Family Doulas we support clients birth with a variety of care providers and with differing birth plans.
We’re equally committed to supporting our clients who choose to birth with or without pain medication; who plan to birth at home, birth centre, or hospital; and who are planning a caesarean or vaginal birth. Whatever your birth wishes, our doulas are committed to providing you with support.
Will a doula work with my care provider?
As doulas we are not medical care providers. We know a lot about birth and can help you to gather the information you need and to support you in advocating for your decisions. We also respect the care provider you’ve chosen for your care.
We are professional doulas who know our place in the birth room and will work with your care providers to make sure your needs are met during your birth. We pride ourselves on our professional support and the respect we have earned from the doctors, nurses, and midwives with whom we’ve worked.
Will a doula support my feeding choices?
All of the doulas at Toronto Family Doulas are dedicated to providing judgment-free support to all of the families we serve.
We have extensive breastfeeding training and will help breastfeeding families with latch, positioning, and how to know if their baby is getting enough milk. Our doulas will work with you to set up breastfeeding stations so you have everything you need in one place, and how to know when your baby is hungry. We also work with great Lactation Consultants who we can refer to, if you require additional help.
We also work with families who are choosing to bottle feed. We can help you to set up systems, so you don’t run out of clean, sterile bottles, and to make the feeding process more efficient. We can show you how to best hold your baby while bottle feeding, and how to know when your baby is hungry and has had enough to eat.