What is a doula?
A doula is a specially trained labor assistant who provides continuous, uninterrupted care for you and your partner while you are in labor. A doula will help you by offering physical support, emotional support and information about the birth process, technology and alternatives.
What can a doula do?
A doula will help provide practical suggestions for working through the pain of contractions and help you to relax by using touch, massage, emotional support, encourage variations in positions and use other labor support techniques to help you through your labor.
What are the benefits to having a doula?
Studies have shown that the use of a doula can result in shorter labors, increased comfort, fewer episiotomies, fewer cesarean sections and greater satisfaction with your birthing experience.
When can you get a doula?
Heywood Hospital has a volunteer doula program that is covered every day and every shift. Most often, a doula can be provided for you when you express or have the need.
Heywood Hospital Doula Program
Heywood Hospital supports a volunteer Doula program that provides a Doula in the Labor & Delivery setting to women who would otherwise not be able to afford a Doula. The primary goal of our Doulas is to provide support and assistance to women in labor and their significant others in an effort to help the patient manage the discomforts of labor.
The Doulas also provide prenatal education at the "Meet the Doula night" and in the physicians office. Accomplishing these goals is done by offering Doula training to appropriate candidates at a reduced cost ($300) and in turn, such candidates will volunteer their availability to our patients for two shifts per month for a period of one year. At the end of the one year commitment, the volunteer Doula can continue to provide volunteer hours for a minimum of one eight hour shift per month or absolve oneself of any further commitment to the program.
If the Doula has met all the requirements throughout the year, (i.e. two shifts per month of volunteering for one year and obtained certification through Birth Arts International), the candidate will be eligible to receive total reimbursement of $300, the original fee paid. Attendance at the monthly “Meet the Doula” night is strongly encouraged.
To be eligible to become a volunteer Doula, candidates must first meet the following requirements:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Interview with the Director of Maternal/Child Services and/or the Clinical Coordinator and/or other staff
- Provide two letters of recommendation
- Complete a CORI
- Demonstrate availability and willingness to commit 8-16 hours per week of volunteering for a period of one year
- Weekend/Holiday/Off-shift availability
- Phone & internet access
- Complete one weekend of approved Doula training, hospital-wide orientation and unit specific orientation
- Documentation of immunization status, TB testing & other health information as required by Employee Health
Doula Requirements for First Year
- Volunteer for 8-16 hours per week
It is the goal and expectation that candidates within the program will work toward certification within the first year.
Certification requires the following:
- Complete required reading (seven books minimum)
- Attend a Lamaze series (four evenings or one full Saturday)
- Attend six "Meet the Doula" nights throughout the year
- Attend a minimum of six births
- Complete online course work requirements through Birth Arts International
- Complete and pass written test for certification
Doula Requirements Following the First Year
- Volunteer a minimum of one 8-hour shift per month
- Attend three "Meet the Doula" nights throughout the year
The Role of the Doula
- The Doula is someone who has met the requirements for eligibility and has been chosen to be part of the Heywood Hospitals Volunteer Doula Program.
- The purpose of the Doula is to assist the laboring woman and her family through the birth process.
- The Doula will adhere to the hospital/department dress code.
- The Doula will adhere to safety and confidentiality policies, procedures and standards, etc. These will be covered in the orientation process.
- The Doula will provide required documentation of immunization status, TB test results and other health information prior to coaching in the Labor & Delivery area
- The Doula will maintain documentation of formal training, volunteer hours and birth attendance.
- The Doula will agree to commit 8-16 hours per week of which may be "on call" if no one is in labor. The Doula may be called in at any time during the "on call" period and therefore must be available during then entire "on call" shift. In the event that the Doula is not able to work the scheduled shift due to illness, he/she must call the L&D unit at least two hours in advance. If a Doula is in need of a day off that he/she has been scheduled for, it is the responsibility of the Doula to arrange coverage.
- In the event of a long labor that continues beyond the Doula's scheduled shift, the Doula may elect to stay with the family or call the next scheduled Doula to come in for the shift.
- The Doula will call Labor & Delivery prior to the beginning of the shift to indicate his/her availability and the best number to call if needed.
- The Doula is responsible for arriving to the hospital within an hour of being called to assist with the patient.
- Doulas will provide physical and emotional support and will not provide medical information or advice to the client or family, but may encourage the client or family to request information or clarification from the L&D staff.
- The Doula will abide by all medical decisions and policies.
If you are interested in becoming a Doula, please contact (978) 630-6216.