Benefits of Having a Doula
· 50% reduction in the cesarean rate
· 25% shorter labor
· 60% reduction in epidural requests
· 40% reduction in oxytocin use
· 30% reduction in analgesia use
· 40% reduction in forceps delivery
(Source: Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth, Klaus, Kennell, and Klaus (1993))
What is a Doula?
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to pregnant people before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.
A Birth Doula
- Recognizes birth as a key experience the birthing person will remember all their life
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a person in labor
- Assists the birthing person in preparing for and carrying out their plans for birth
- Stays with the birthing person throughout the labor
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the birthing person get the information they needs to make informed decision
- Facilitates communication between the laboring person, their partner and their clinical care providers
- Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the birthing person’s memory of the birth experience
- Allows the partner to participate at his/her/their comfort level
A Postpartum Doula
Research evidence shows that the quality services of a postpartum doula can ease the transition that comes with the addition of a baby to a family, improve parental satisfaction and reduce the risk of mood disorders.
- Offers education, companionship and nonjudgmental support during the postpartum fourth trimester
- Assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tidying
- Offers evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents and makes appropriate referrals when necessary
Why Hire a Doula?
- The average labor and delivery nurse spends fifteen minutes of her eight-hour shift offering physical comfort measures, providing emotional support, or advocating for their patients(source: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Bith). Even a home-birth midwife’s primary concern is the mother’s health, and she has more than just the family’s emotional well-being to attend to. Having a doula provides both birthing and non-birthing partner a knowledgeable and experienced person who is there solely to support them, and stays through the entire birth. Different than a friend, a doula can be more objective and is specially trained in pain-reduction techniques and support measures for birth.
- Studies have shown that the continuous presence of caring, experienced support can reduce the length of labor, the use of pain medication, the need for intravenous oxytocin to stimulate stronger contractions, the likelihood of having an episiotomy (snipping or cutting the vaginal opening), the percentage of instrumental vaginal deliveries, and the C-section rate (source: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth).
- People who have a doula experience less pain and anxiety in labor, express greater satisfaction with the labor, feel that they coped better, have a heightened appreciation of their bodies’ strength and performance and themselves, breastfeed longer, and experience less difficulty in parenting. They can have more positive feelings toward the baby, better self-esteem, a better relationship with their partner, and less postpartum depression (source: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth).
- Doulas and partners: A good doula enhances rather than detracts from the partner’s participation. Partners and close relatives are the best people to provide love and comfort to a laboring woman, and partners are more likely to offer physical and emotional comfort measures and support with a little guidance from a doula. A doula often provides support and resources to the partner during labor so they are best able to provide care and support to the mother.
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