What is a Doula?
A birth doula is a person trained and experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth. A doula’s role is to provide physical, emotional, and informational support to women and their partners during labor and birth. She understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman during labor. A doula offers help and advice on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning, along with providing continuous emotional reassurance and comfort. Each woman will utilize a doula differently. Some women want a gentle, reassuring presence at their birth to help them with breathing and comfort measures. Others want a full-blown labor coach to enforce their birth plan. Still others just want an extra person on hand to take pictures, coordinate relatives, watch kids and run errands. It is your doulas job to support you in your labor, delivery and postpartum. Certified doulas have been through training that focuses on the emotional needs of the women. Also, the doula will have hands on practice such as relaxation, breathing, positioning and movements to reduce pain.
Does a Doula replace my Birth Partner?
During pregnancy and birth you may have many needs which can be fulfilled by your partner. However, your partner may not be able to fulfill these needs, were as a doula would be able to give you the “non-clinical aspects of care” that you need. A doula will advise partners about how to help in certain situations, such as positions and comfort suggestions. A doula can help the partner understand what the mother might be feeling and interpret the signs of labor.
By getting to know the two of you before the birth, I can discover your priorities, fears, and concerns and help you develop strategies to deal with them. A doula is not meant to replace a birth partner or family members rather she supports both the mother and her partner in achieving their desired birth experience. It is my goal as a doula to encourage the birth partner and to provide as much physical, emotional and spiritual help as desired. I do not direct the birth, the mother does. I am there to support her in her decisions.
Dads and Doulas?
The role of a doula is never to take the place of the father or partner in labor, but to complement and enhance their experience. Today, many fathers are taking a more active role in the birth process, but some partners feel this is a huge expectation, and would rather be able to enjoy the birth without having to stand in as labor coach. Having a doula as part of the birth team, allows the father to be able to support the mother emotionally during the labor and birth, and also enjoy it himself without all the pressure to remember everything he learned in childbirth class.
Why Doula Care?
Doulas care reduces complications, pain medications and encourages maternal bonding, healthy breastfeeding and lessens your chances of postpartum depression. There have been over 25 different studies done on the benefits of doula care. Statistics show that women who received support during labor and childbirth had a reduction in the following areas:
- 50% reduction in Cesarean procedures
- 60% reduction in epidural requests
- 40% reduction in oxytocin use
- 30% reduction in analgesic use
- 40% reduction in forceps delivery
- 25% shorter labor