What's a Doula ?
A Doula is a non-medical assistant, trained and experienced in childbirth, who provides physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother and her partner before, during, and just after childbirth. The word doula comes from ancient Greek and means 'woman's servant'. Throughout history women all over the world have been supported by other women during childbirth. A woman going through labor could depend on these women for encouragement, advice, emotional support, and physical support. The role of a doula is based on this ancient tradition of support and care.
What do Doulas do ?
Doulas are experienced in providing tried and true comfort measures specific to labor. These can include suggestions for changing positions, vocalization, rhythmic movement, relaxation with breathing or guided relaxation scripts as well as specialized massage for labor. A doula helps families gather important information before and during labor so they are completely informed of all their options and can feel confident in their decisions.
The most valuable thing a doula offers is her continuous support during labor. This comes from verbal encouragement, physical presence, and trust in your power and ability to birth. Doulas nurture birthing women by treating them with kindness, respect, and dignity; creating a lasting positive impact on the mother, her partner, and the baby.
"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it” - John H. Kennell, MD
Working with Partners
The mother’s partner always plays the most important role in loving and caring for the laboring woman. As a doula, I will be there to help the partner support the mother as needed and desired. Birth is a very intimate event and I know when to step back and give a laboring couple privacy. I will guide the partner in supporting their loved one by modeling specific support measures that work best for a laboring woman.
Some partners may feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable with such a central role, and that is okay as well. Doulas are there to support the partner as well as the mother, so both have a positive and rewarding birth experience.
Many women have a whole birthing team, including friends, mother, sister, grandmother, father, etc. Whoever you want as part of your birth team will be honored and welcomed. We will all work together to ensure that you feel comfortable and well supported through your labor and delivery.
“I knew she was there and she just melted into the action, whispering in my ear, reminding me at every turn how strong I was and simply that I could do it.” - A new mother, speaking of her doula
What the research says
Women supported by doulas tend to have less interventions and shorter labors including:
- 28% reduction in Cesarean rate
- 40% decrease in Pitocin use (labor induction)
- 28% less likely to use epidural or narcotic medication
- 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal delivery
- 41% less likely to have vacuum or forceps delivery
Six weeks after birth, mothers who had doulas were:
- 33% less likely to be dissatisfied with their births
- Consistently more satisfied with their birth experiences
- More confident with their babies
- More satisfied with their partners
Long-term physiological benefits for mom and baby:
- Improved breastfeeding
- Stronger maternal-infant interaction and bonding
- Increased time spent with baby
- More positive maternal assessments of baby's personality and health, and maternal competence
- Decrease in postpartum depression and anxiety