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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3072.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - Board 8

Abstract #105073

Postpartum doulas: Domains of paraprofessional practice

Kimberly D. Campbell-Voytal, PhD, RN1, Judith Fry McComish, PhD, RN2, and Carolynn Rowland, PhD, RN1. (1) Department of Community Medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 4201 St. Antoine Blvd., 9D-UHC, Detroit, MI 48201, 313 577-9454, kvoytal@med.wayne.edu, (2) School of Medicine/ Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology; College of Nursing/Family, Community and Mental Health, Wayne State University, Hutzel Professional Building, 4727 St. Antoine Blvd., Suite 301, Detroit, MI 48201

Historically in nearly every culture, women have been supported by experienced lay women who provide support during labor, delivery, and the postpartum period. Two meta-analyses have found continuous support during labor and delivery to be effective. Other studies have examined the effects of postpartum home visiting by other paraprofessionals but none have explicitly addressed doula practice. Despite this fact doulas are actively providing postpartum care throughout North America and Europe. This presentation describes the results of an ethnographic study of the content, process, and meaning of postpartum doula care. Four doulas were observed during a series of six postpartum home visits made to 15 mother-infant dyads over a three-month period. In-depth interviews with mothers and doulas at the end of services explored the meaning and interpretation of care practices. Observation and interview data were coded for themes and patterns reflecting the content, meaning and perceived importance of doula care. Notes and transcripts were independently coded by two-member teams and differences in coding reconciled through consensus. Inter-rater reliability was high. Preliminary analysis of the range and relative frequency of postpartum doula care practices is being completed. Thematic analysis of maternal and doula perceptions and interpretations of care is ongoing. This presentation will focus primarily on postpartum practice from the doula's perspective as documented in interviews and observations during home visits. Documenting the content and process of doula care is a necessary first step towards a more controlled study of the effect of doula support on postpartum outcomes.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Maternal and Child Health, Lay Health Workers

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

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The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA