Doula: recovering the meaning of humanized childbirth

Childbirth means the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new stage in the woman’s life. Many expectations, fears and doubts about this moment may arise in the pregnant woman, especially in the first trip.

In addition to having the support of the family and the medical team, some women may also prefer to have a doula by their side, a professional specialized in providing physical and emotional support during this time.

The doula, which comes from the Greek “woman who serves”, helps the pregnant woman to face all the insecurities of childbirth, accompanying her before, during and after the baby’s birth.

Below we explain the main activities and benefits of having a professional like this during delivery. Continue to learn more.


What does it mean to be a doula?

Doula is the professional, normally a woman, who offers assistance to pregnant women before, during and after delivery, offering emotional and physical support to the woman who wants a more natural and healthy delivery.

The doula is also a professional who is present to offer support to the family, helping the father and / or other relatives to understand how to deal with this moment.

It does not replace the woman’s companion in labor, but guides everyone involved on how to behave and deal with that moment.

Due to nervousness, those who accompany the pregnant woman in childbirth often do not know how to help to make the moment more comfortable and peaceful, as far as possible.

The doula’s role is to suggest techniques and forms of integration, seeking to make women feel safe and comfortable.

It is important to highlight that the doula is not necessarily someone with medical training, and is not a requirement to exercise the activity.

However, there are many doulas trained in areas such as psychology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and nursing, for example, which helps to bring knowledge of areas that contribute to the activities performed.

Historically, women have always counted on the help of other women in childbirth and the records show that the concept of doula arose around 1970.

That is, just to appear very recent, the assistance to childbirth by doulas has already been for some years.

The performance of these professionals is recognized and encouraged by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), for the benefits of the monitoring carried out.

Read more: How is a normal childbirth? Really hurts? Walkthrough and video

Doula is a midwife? What is the function of a doula?

The doula’s role is to provide emotional and physical support to the pregnant woman to prepare for childbirth . Unlike the midwife, who also helps the woman and the pregnant woman in preparing for delivery, the doula does not perform or decide on medical procedures.

The midwife can perform natural births, perform emergency measures and be responsible for the care of the newborn. So they are not the same thing, but they can be complementary.

We can understand the activities of the doula by dividing between what is done before, during and after childbirth, in addition to support to the partner and family.

Before delivery

The doula needs to know and be in contact with the woman before delivery. Usually, there are between 4 to 6 meetings in this period for the mother and the doula to get to know each other.

It is important that the pregnant woman likes the doula and feels comfortable around her, as she is a person who will be in a very intimate moment, which is childbirth and postpartum.

During this period, the doula also has contact with the pregnant woman’s partner and family members. She should explain to everyone about how the childbirth will be, the common procedures, give tips on massage and affection points that can make the pregnant woman more calm and comfortable.

Read more: Exercises for pregnant women (pre-delivery): swimming, breathing and more

During childbirth

It is not the doula who performs the delivery. At that moment, she acts as a bridge between medical care and the couple. She can help by explaining how the procedures will be done, facilitating medical terms and providing greater emotional support.

Another important role of the doula at this time is to help the pregnant woman to find more comfortable positions for labor, to guide to breathing techniques and natural measures to relieve pain, such as massages and baths.

After childbirth

After the baby is born, the doula helps the woman by giving support in relation to baby care and breastfeeding.

Read more: What is Maternity Leave, how it works, when to enter, new law

What does the doula not do?

Before the pregnant woman seeks the service offered by the doula, it is important that she knows what is or is not the responsibility of this type of professional, as some activities cannot be performed by the doula, such as:

  • Perform medical or clinical procedures (administration of medicines, pressure or vaginal touches, monitoring of heartbeat, etc.);
  • Discuss procedures with the medical team;
  • Intervene in medical decisions;
  • Substitute any health professional needed in childbirth assistance;
  • Replace the medical monitoring of the pregnant woman.

Benefits: what is the meaning of the doula in accompanying the pregnant woman?

The follow-up of the doula during the preparation of the pregnant woman for childbirth and the postpartum period is beneficial because she is a professional specialized in providing support to the pregnant woman, something that often the partner, family members and even the medical team cannot provide for several factors.

It is a more humanized way of conducting this moment, which requires a woman’s physical and emotional preparation, since it can be very difficult, exhausting and painful. With the techniques it has and the guidelines, the doula helps women to feel more prepared.

In addition to the well-being provided to the mother, there are studies that show that the help of doulas decreases the rates of cesarean sections, can reduce the time of delivery, the use of forceps (an instrument used in childbirth to assist in the removal of the baby) and oxytocin (hormone that induces contractions and reduces bleeding at birth).

In other words, it is a way of making childbirth more natural, allowing the mother and baby to have their own, intimate and less instrumentalized process.

What is the price of a doula service? Are you in SUS?

The price of a doula accompaniment depends on many factors. It is important to consider that doulas have a pre-delivery preparation job, not providing a punctual service on the day of the baby’s birth.

This means that it is not possible for the doula to specify the days and times of attendance, as soon as she will need to provide support at all times, especially when the baby feels ready to be born.

Because it is an activity that requires more time and dedication from the professional, the value can vary a lot because of this. The doula’s length of experience, the region of Brazil where she works and the previous training she has are factors that interfere in the price charged.

On average, the price of follow-up before, during and after delivery varies from R $ 1200 to R $ 2,700 . You are charged for the work package provided.

It is often a high value due to the professional’s many hours of work and emotional investment. In addition, as it is not yet a common practice in Brazil, it is difficult for these professionals to live off the income obtained in this exercise.

Despite this, there are doulas who work on a voluntary basis, carrying out this activity free of charge. Some of them do this volunteering at SUS.

For this, they should look for health units to make themselves available, defining the period they have for the activity.

Hospital staff make a selection of doulas and, in some cases, also offer training for them.

How to find a doula?

There are several groups and regional associations of doulas throughout Brazil, which can be found even on social networks. On the Doulas do Brasil website it is possible to search according to the state in which you live.

The doula is a professional capable of guiding and accompanying the pregnant woman and her family in this special moment, which is childbirth. With massage techniques, breathing and the emotional support provided, she helps to make this moment as comfortable as possible for the woman.

If you do this work or have already had contact with a doula during a pregnancy, share the experience with our readers in the comments.

Thank you for reading and continue to inform yourself about pregnancy here at Hickey solution.