Hi. My name is Kelly Collins and I am Christian healing-centered birth and postpartum doula.
Whenever I tell someone that I am a doula, the majority of them assume that I am a birth doula. Right now, I only serve as a postpartum doula. But I plan to add birth support in the near future. There are many services I'd like to eventually offer my clients as I learn more and grow my business.
While learning about various doula certifying programs and institutions, I started to learn more and more about the different types of doulas and the roles that they play in a family's life. Typically, a doula provides non-judgmental, unbiased support and care for new parents and their families. As doulas become more essential to parents all over the world, I wanted to share the many options the doula community provides. Here are several roles where doulas can give support:
Antepartum (Prenatal or Pregnancy) doula: This type of doula assists parents and families during pregnancy. Most times antepartum doulas serve pregnant people who have a high-risk pregnancy. Antepartum doulas can be very reassuring to new parents who may need extra support during pregnancy and they are able to provide both physical and emotional support to them. More often they will also help with light housework or cooking for a birthing person who needs to take it easy. Bed rest doula services may also be an option for the clients of antepartum doulas if they need even more assistance.
Adoption doula: Adoption and/or foster doulas will often support both the birthing person and the adopting/foster family. They sometimes serve as a liaison between the two families. These doulas provide the birth mother with many educational resources prior to her birth, support her through labor as her birth doula, guide her after birth and be a part of the birth mother's ongoing support system. The doula can then assist the adopting/fostering family in preparing for their baby and help them through the journey of receiving and bonding with their new baby.
Abortion doula: These types of doulas specialize in helping expectant parents during the emotional process of abortion. The birthing person will experience many emotions as well as physical side effects and will need an open-minded and sensitive individual to support them. These qualities are very important in the scope of an abortion doula.
Birth (Labor) doula: The birth doula is the most common and popular of this list. A birth doula’s job is to support clients and their family through the process of labor and the birth of a baby. This support includes providing educational information regarding birth, mental and emotional encouragement, physical support during labor, breathing techniques and labor positions and any other non-medical assistance to the laboring person and their partner. Birth doulas will typically include 1 or 2 prenatal visits prior to the birth and 1 or 2 postpartum visits following birth to help with breast/chest feeding and to ensure things are going well.
Bereavement doula: Usually a doula helps families adjust to life with their new baby. Miscarriage or loss doulas are often women who have experienced this themselves, and make themselves available to provide emotional, physical, and informational support to women and families processing these losses. Like other doulas, they have specialized knowledge and resources for support, and can also provide the services of a postpartum doula to help grieving families through the healing process.
End of life (Death) doula: Some women have taken steps to become a doula for older people who are experiencing health crises, or have little time left on earth. This doula may spend many hours providing companionship, conversation, comfort and encouragement to someone in their last days or hours. End of life doulas are beginning to become more mainstream in America.
Postpartum doula: A postpartum doula is a temporary family care giver and an expert in normal adjustment. We are trained specifically to help with the many changes that families experience following the birth of a baby. Postpartum doulas assist families for up to 12 weeks and sometimes longer. Some postpartum doulas, like me, offer bed rest doula services to pregnant bodies who may have pregnancy complications or a high risk pregnancy. The pregnant person would have a companion and helper until they are ready to give birth.
Sibling doulas assist families that have older children who may need care while the parents are in the hospital or while a birthing person is recovering from birth.
Hypno-Doulas are Hypnobabies trained and understand the philosophy, techniques, cue words and other materials in the Hypnobabies program.
Full-Spectrum doula: doulas who provide support and care for individuals & families during any and all pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage, abortion or termination, stillbirth, surrogacy and adoption. We provide support for any situation, unexpected or otherwise and we believe that every pregnant body deserves non-judgmental care and respect. A full spectrum doula believes that their work is not just in childbirth, but that it covers the entire spectrum of pregnancy outcomes.
Adult doula: Because of the response from one of my February blog posts, I have realized that while the world is just starting to recognize the modern day doula, our roles are beginning to expand beyond the birth community. More and more adults are making the connection of how a doula can support them at any time, no matter the circumstances. For adult doula services or consulting services, please learn more here. I am sure that the list above will only grow as doulas are accepted as mainstream, non-medical birth professionals.
In recent years, the role of doulas have expanded and some even have specialty areas that extend from the Adult Doula category. Some of those include: Fertility, Lactation, NICU Support, Holistic, Life Transition, Family Preservation, Prison, Indigenous, Cancer, Menopause and Addiction/Recovery. Many doulas are trained and certified in several areas and specialties so that they can serve and accommodate the growing needs in their communities. This proves to be helpful not just when a baby is born, but also when life happens and families need guidance, resources and emotional support from a trusted expert.
The value of hiring a doula and the care they provide has grown tremendously over the last several years. As my business grows, I hope to offer several of these services and possibly become a full-spectrum doula. I want to offer all families seeking a doula a wide range of services, no matter what their family looks like and/or how they may need support.
Thinking of hiring a doula? These questions may help you decide.