What is a doula? As stated previously, a doula is essentially a trained birth companion (personally, I received training from DONA and am working towards certification). A doula strives to empower the birth parents to make informed decisions and works hard to see the parent's birth plan come to fruition, whatever that birth plan may be. A doula is there to support, not dictate. A doula is for there for the care and comfort of both parents when baby makes their entrance into the world.
What a doula does not do:
A doula does not deliver babies. Your doctor or midwife will handle all things medical. A doula is there for mind, heart and soul while accompanying physical supports and comforts.
Doulas do not administer medications.
Doulas do not do checks or fetal heart monitoring.
Doulas do not make medical decisions for you.
Hospital births and C-sections? –Yes, a doula can and should attend both. If you have chosen a hospital birth, I would sincerely encourage a doula presence. Having had a C-section myself, a doula can still be VERY useful. You can still have a birth plan. C-section birth is birth.
What about VBAC? – This is a passion of mine, so yes to a doula! There can be a lot of emotions tied to a VBAC and support is of utmost importance.
Certifiied vs Non-certified - My personal route has been to pursue certification through DONA. You do not have to be certified to practice as a doula.