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J Perinat Educ. 2014 Spring;23(2):96-103. doi: 10.1891/1058-1243.23.2.96.

How birth doulas help clients adapt to changes in circumstances, clinical care, and client preferences during labor.

Abstract

This study examined how doulas adapt to challenges in client's labors. There were 104 Canadian and 92 American doulas who responded to a survey distributed at a doula conference. We report results from open-ended questions in which doulas describe how they manage changes deviating from the mother's birth plan and how they navigate differences of opinion between themselves and providers. Four themes emerged: giving nonjudgmental support, assisting informed decision making, acting as a facilitator, and issues with advocacy. Although 30% of doulas said that advocacy and information giving could result in conflict with providers, doulas reported working within their scope of practice and striving to be part of the team. Issues in doula responsibility and patient advocacy remain, and ongoing role clarification is needed.

KEYWORDS:

caregiver; doula; interprofessional relations; role

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