What is a Doula?

What is a doula ?

Doula is a Greek work which translates to “woman servant”. Going back a century it was the “doula”, a wise woman of the village that supported women in having babies and people dying. The emergence of birthing doulas in Australia came about in the 1980s as women wanting to do birthing differently, taking this part of life back to more natural ways, saw the growth of home births, and having fathers and supporters much more included in the birthing process.

In more recent years the role of having someone to support those at the other end of life (dying) become much more common – these practitioners are known as End of Life doulas.

End of Life doulas may come from a range of backgrounds, hold various skills and expertise and offer a range of services. While they do not offer medical or legal support it is the emotional support, knowledge and resources in a caring, compassionate and empowering manner that is of essence. Someone that can hold that space for the person dying and others to allow the process of leaving this life in a more peaceful and meaningful way.

A doula can be engaged by the person who is dying, family members or friends, or whoever it is that is needing support at this time. The range of services will differ from doula to doula but most cover a holistic approach and can look at supports and assistance around a person’s medical, legal, care, emotional, spiritual and practical needs. It is a very individualised approach, so not everyone’s needs and/or packaging of the service are ever going to be the same.

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