What is a ‘Doula’
‘I SUPPORT YOU IN YOUR DECISIONS ON HOW YOU WANT TO BIRTH I AM A DOULA’
~ DOULA TRAININGS INTERNATIONAL
What is a Doula…
“A doula (/ˈduːlə/, also known as a labour coach and originating from the Ancient Greek word meaning female servant) is a nonmedical person who assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth, as well as her partner and/or family, by providing physical assistance, and emotional support. The provision of continuous support during labour, which may be provided by doulas, nurses, family, friends, etc. is associated with improved maternal and fetal health and a variety of other benefits. Additionally, a doula is sometimes hired to work with families beyond the postpartum stages, providing continued physical and emotional support, for as long as needed (oftentimes, this support can be ongoing for several years).”
Many studies confirm that when a doula is present…
- 50% less likely to have a cesarean birth
- 41% less likely to need forceps or vacuum extraction
- 28% less likely to need pain medication (like an epidural)
- Less likely to need their water broken artificially or have an episiotomy
- Less likely to experience anxiety in labor or postpartum depression
- More satisfied with their birth experience
- More likely to have faster labors
- More likely to have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions to special care nurseries
- More likely to breastfeed easier and longer
- Less likely to have a low APGAR score or experience decreased heart rate or labored respiration
Contrary to many expectations, having a doula reinforces the importance of the partner or father’s presence, not negating this role in the birth. A birth partner can participate to his or her comfort level, while also being nurtured and cared for by the doula during this major life transition. A doula does not replace the role of your partner. She is to assist and support you and your partner in achieving your desired birth and postpartum period. Though the doula remains focused on the mother’s needs, she works closely with your partner and encourages him or her during labor, delivery, and postpartum. I work to support, educate and advocate for all people who are involved in the birth. By helping with positions, giving massage, translating information from doctors or midwives, and encouraging mom’s inner guidance and strength. Essentially, my role is to intuitively work with a mother to find exactly what she needs to focus and be present in her birth.
A doula will be with you if a cesarean is needed – planned or unplanned. Depending on the hospital, the doula can also accompany you and your partner in the operating room. She will be there for you in recovery to assist with any postpartum needs.
Most mothers are encouraged to stay at home in early labor. Your doula will come to your home when you feel that you need the support.
The presence of a doula can be beneficial no matter what type of birth you are planning. Many women report needing fewer interventions when they have a doula. But the primary role of a doula is to help mothers have a safe and pleasant birth, not to help them choose the type of birth they want. For women who have decided to have a medicated birth, the doula will provide emotional support, informational support and comfort measures through labor. For a mother facing a cesarean, a doula can be helpful by providing constant support and encouragement. Often a cesarean results from an unexpected situation leaving mothers feeling unprepared, disappointed and lonely. A doula can be attentive to mothers at all times throughout the cesarean, letting them know what is going on throughout the procedure. This can also free the partner to attend to the baby and accompany the newborn to the nursery without leaving the mother alone. Finally, since all care providers may not be able to be with you every moment (perhaps at home before going to the birth center or in the rare case of transport), the doula helps parents process the information they need to make informed decisions. A doula accompanies couples through the entire birth journey using her experience and knowledge to help them have a satisfying birth.
A doula does not perform any medical tasks. She is solely there for comfort and encouragement. However, she is knowledgeable in pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn care, and will share her knowledge while encouraging you to research your options.
A doula will provide you with her own knowledge and experience of birth. She will not speak for you. However, she will encourage you to find confidence in using your own voice.
A doula will be apart of your birth team. She will not take the place of any health care provider but may act as a liaison with the medical staff. Your primary care providers are there for your medical health needs and for the baby. A doula will be there for your non-medical needs.
No, doulas are hired privately. They work for you regardless of your chosen primary care provider.