Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Doulas' Perceptions on Single Mothers' Risk and Protective Factors, and Aspirations Relative to Child-Birth

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Doulas' Perceptions on Single Mothers' Risk and Protective Factors, and Aspirations Relative to Child-Birth

Article excerpt

Doulas provide services to other women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. The content of their services are compromised of continuous non-medical social, physical, and emotional support and (Breedlove, 2005; Kishi & Salik, 2009; Meyer, Arnold, & Pascali-Donaro, 2001). Doulas' role are recognized as "sister-like," "woman-to-woman," "mother-to-daughter," or "friend-to-friend" relationship (Breedlove, 2005). Doulas often encourage young mothers to explore their goals.

In traditional societies, relatives and elderly women (e.g., mothers, grandmothers) are acknowledged as young mothers' role models to teach childbearing skills from one generation to another (Ballen & Fulcher, 2006; Livingstone, 1992). Contrary to the traditional societies, in individualistic cultures, the help of family members is barely available to young mothers. Due to the lack of partners of family members, doulas take the role of these extended family members (Ballen & Fulcher, 2006) in individualistic cultures. For example, doulas help mothers by providing 24-hour call availability at pre-birth, labor, delivery, and postpartum period, individual counseling, and transportation provision to mothers (Ballen & Fulcher, 2006; Glink & Atfeld, 2000). While providing services and accompanying mothers, all doulas respect each woman's uniqueness, diverse religious, and cultural beliefs.

The Role of Doulas

The main role of doulas is a caring process for the mothers in early pregnancy through the transition of motherhood. Doulas professionally assist the mother through all of her child's development and meet their needs. The role of doulas is to help women have a safe and empowering birthing experience (Glink & Atfeld, 2000). Doulas accompany women throughout labor and delivery at home and in a hospital setting. Further, doulas educate mothers, their partner, and family members about childbirth preparation and breastfeeding (Meyer, Arnold, & Pascali-Donaro, 2001).

There are three types of doulas. The first one is called a prenatal doula. Prenatal doulas promote health, build healthy relationships, encourage receiving good medical care, educate mother about the baby, and teach about labor and delivery (Glink & Atfeld, 2000). The other one is called a birth doula (intrapartum) that provides comfort, assist in the birth progress, and nurture the family interaction (Glink & Atfeld, 2000). After the birth, doulas make home-visits to teach breast-feeding techniques, nurture the family connection, educate the new parents on childbearing, and help new mothers for transportation. The third one is classified as a postpartum doula. These doulas accompany mothers to take care of their new born babies, and teaching baby care basics (Meyer, Arnold, & Pascali-Donaro, 2001)Although there are three types of doulas, sometimes doulas can carry out all roles.

The current study addresses the doulas' perceptions on single mothers' risk and protective factors, and the aspirations in the postpartum care that has not been explored in the literature yet. This study is salient to help doulas and other professionals explore and find out some different aspects of single mothers' opinions about their lives based on doulas' opinions. The present study utilized Ground Theory principles to explore the unknown nature of the conversation and semi-structured interview to allow participants some space to flow the conversation more naturally (Hesse-Biber & Leavy, 2006). Five questions were asked to the participants on single mothers' risk and protective factors, aspirations, and the benefits of DOULA program. The study will benefit doulas, social workers, and other professionals to examine if they are on the same page while working with single mothers.

Research Studies on Doulas

Many existing studies have examined doulas involvement with young mothers in the current literature. …

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