Doula Volunteer Program
The Siena House Doula group was formed in May of 2010. While a few Siena House residents had previously engaged the volunteer services of doulas from the community, we wanted to offer comprehensive birth and post partum doula services to the residents by a group of doulas that were part of Siena House and who understood the mission of the organization and were familiar with how the house operates. We also wanted to make sure that the doulas had a good understanding of the particular challenges and special situations that many of the residents are faced with.
What exactly does a birth doula do? A doula offers continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to a mother during labor. Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily. The doula does not perform any medical tasks, make any decisions for the mother nor speak on her behalf to the medical personnel. However we are there to clarify any situation and help the mother formulate questions that she might have about her care during the labor process. Our aim is to make sure that the resident feels she has some control over her situation and to help her to not feel overwhelmed.
A post partum doula works with the mom after she returns home from the hospital. The doula helps the mom adjust to her new role as a parent, as well as educates her on baby care, breastfeeding, and newborn behavior. The doula supports the mom emotionally and in practical ways.
The Siena House Doula program welcomes both birth and post partum volunteer doulas. When a resident indicates that she would like to have the help of a doula, she is matched with a doula team of a birth doula and a post partum doula. This doula team agrees to contact the resident once a week, either in person or by telephone. If possible one of the doulas may attend childbirth education classes with the resident or be available to accompany her to prenatal doctor’s appointments. This gives the doulas the opportunity to get to know the resident better and to develop an atmosphere of trust, which is important for successful support during and after the birth. Because this is a significant undertaking of time, we work in pairs so that two doulas can share the responsibilities and also support each other in their work with the resident.
The doulas meet on a monthly basis to discuss each birth, support one another, and to continually look for ways that we can serve Siena House residents better.
Please contact Beth Lilienthal at firstname.lastname@example.org for an interview if you are interested in becoming part of the Siena House Doula Program.