What is a doula? While the word "doula" originates from the Greek words for female servant or "handmaiden," a modern doula is typically a woman who provides informational, emotional and physical support to a woman as she gives birth.
There are many benefits to hiring a doula, although the most important is this: women supported by a doula report having more satisfaction with the experience of birth. Whether yours is a vaginal or cesarean birth, a doula's support is invaluable. Other benefits include: reduced need for medications in labor, and better health outcomes for mom and baby, including reduced cesarean rates. For more information, click here to read a great article on the evidence and research supporting the use of doulas.
One of the things that sets a doula apart from other forms of labor support is that her support is continuous. I join you whenever you feel you need me, whether at home or at the hospital, and stay until your baby is born, you're all settled comfortably and breastfeeding is established. I don't work for the hospital; I work for you.
Here's a brief overview of what a doula can do for you:
- A doula provides emotional support, reassurance and comfort.
- A doula provides comfort measures to make mom more comfortable while in labor. This can include massage, relaxation techniques, help with positioning, aromatherapy, and reassurance.
- A doula provides evidence-based information on all things related to pregnancy, birth, and newborn care. She can help inform you of your birth choices, the risks and benefits of different interventions, and may spend more more time discussing your options with you than your care provider does.
- She also helps facilitate communication between you and your care provider. A doula can assist in writing your birth plan, if you want help doing so, and make sure you understand your choices and options. While she cannot speak for you, she can help provide tools to effectively communicate your preferences to your provider.
- Doulas also support the partner. They do not replace him or her. A doula allows the partner to take breaks to go to the restroom, get something to eat, and rest for a bit. She also teaches the partner how to better comfort the mother. Studies have shown that couple who have a doula feel MORE connected after the birth. 71% of mothers supported by a doula reported satisfaction with their partner at six weeks postpartum as opposed to 30% of mothers who did not have a doula's support.
- A doula helps buffer the harsh environment of a hospital and protect your birth space.
A doula does NOT:
- give medical advice or diagnose conditions, or perform any medical tasks such as cervical exams, monitor vitals, or actually deliver the baby.
- take over for the partner. Rather, a doula supports the partner too.
- leave your side. A doula's support is continuous. I do not leave at the end of a shift.
- judge you, or allow my biases to get in the way of providing gentle,. loving support. She supports your birth choices, in the way you desire.
Multiple studies have shown the benefits of having a doula. Doulas are associated with:
- 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin used to induce or augment labor)
- 28% decrease in Cesarean sections
- 12% increase in spontaneous vaginal deliveries
- 9% decrease in the use of pain medications
- 14% decrease in babies needing to be admitted to the NICU
- 34% decrease in a mother's dissatisfaction with the birth experience
- shorter labors (some studies say by two hours!)
- decreased use of epidural
- decrease in forceps or vacuum assisted delivery
- higher rates of successful breastfeeding