What is a Doula?
A non-medical professional experienced and trained in pregnancy and childbirth who provides support through information, emotional support, and guidance to a mother and her partner before, during, and just after childbirth.
What does a Doula do?
A doula's role varies with each client she works for as each woman has different needs for each pregnancy. Much of a doula's job is to offer education and guidance during pregnancy so you know your options and can make informed decisions. During labor a doula offers emotional support to the laboring woman. She will remind you that you are strong and capable and that your body is made to give birth. Birth is such an amazing, intense and personal experience that having someone experienced there to support you can make an enormous difference.
A doula is there to let you know that all your emotions are valid, that you can make noise if you need to, or be quiet if you need to, that you can laugh or cry when you need to. She is there continuously to offer support and encouragement and doesn't change shifts.
Is a Doula only for natural childbirth?
No, doulas support all women during all types of labor and birth. Yes, it is true that doulas are trained in many different methods of drug-free pain management and coping techniques so she may help you with visualization or breathing techniques, suggest position changes, use massage, aromatherapy, acupressure and more. But she is also knowledgeable about pharmacological pain relief, its benefits, drawbacks and administration processes. A doula is well educated and can make sure you know every option and help you make the decision that falls best in line with your birth preferences. Unlike a doctor or nurse who may not support your wishes or respect your birth plan, a doula is always on your side. At the same time, a doula is experienced in facilitating communication between you and your medical team and can help create an all-round supportive environment. A doula supports natural, epidural and cesarean births.
How about Doulas and the dad/partner?
A doula does NOT take the role of the father or partner. Instead, she turns them into experts. She gently guides them when they don't know how to help the mother. She gives them confidence in their ability to love her through the process. Each member of this team has specific knowledge; mom knows her body, the partner knows her and the doula knows birth. So each member has a specific role during this important day. Of course when there is no dad/partner present for whatever reason, a doula can be of even greater importance to the mother.
What doesn't a Doula do?
A doula is NOT a medical professional and therefore does not perform any medical procedures or administer medications. She does not make any decisions for you, but she may remind you of your options and preferences you have written in your birth plan. She also doesn't judge. If your situation changes or you simply change your mind, she will support your choices for the full 100%.
What does research say about Doulas?
Current research supports the use of doulas in labor. Statistics say that women who have a doula for labor and birth have:
31% decrease in use of Pitocin
28% decrease in the risk of C-section
12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience.
Source: Evidence Base Birth. For full article please click here