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Non-medical companion who supports a person through significant health-related experiences / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A doula (/ˈdlə/; from Ancient Greek δούλα 'female slave'; Greek pronunciation: [ˈðula]) is a trained professional who provides expert guidance for the service of others and who supports another person (the doula's client) through a significant health-related experience, such as childbirth, miscarriage, induced abortion or stillbirth, as well as non-reproductive experiences such as dying.[1][2][3][4] A doula might also provide support to the client's partner, family, and friends.[5][6]

A doula (left) guiding a pregnant woman in preparation for labor. Comforting touch can help alleviate contractions during labor. The ball and childbirth position are also important.

The doula's goal and role is to help the client feel safe and comfortable, complementing the role of the healthcare professionals who provide the client's medical care. Unlike a physician, midwife, or nurse, a doula cannot administer medication or other medical treatment or give medical advice.[7][2] An individual might need to complete training to work as a doula, although training and certification processes vary throughout the world.[7][3][4][8]

Some doulas work as volunteers; others are paid for their services by their client, medical institutions, or other private and public organizations. Doulas receive varying amounts of training, and their professionalism also varies.[4][9]

The contributions of doulas during reproductive experiences and end-of-life care have been studied and have been shown to benefit their clients.[4][10][11][12] For example, a birth doula providing support during childbirth might increase likelihood of vaginal birth (rather than Caesarean section), decrease the need for pain medication during labor, and improve the perception of the birthing experience.[13][14]

The benefits of a doula providing other types of support have been less well studied, but might improve a client's experience with medical care or help an individual cope with health transitions.[15][16][4][17]

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