What is a Doula & why should I want one?
What do doulas do?
"Doula" is a Greek word meaning, "Woman who serves." As a doula, I serve women and their partners by providing a calm, accepting presence and non-medical comfort such as massage, acupressure, aromatherapy, and assistance with positioning to facilitate labor and birth. Immediately after the birth I can help the mother with breastfeeding if she wishes.
I have a husband/partner. Do I need a doula?
A doula is present in addition to, not instead of, the woman's partner. A doula
provides non-medical comfort and support specific to labor and birth. The
presence of a loving partner during labor and birth gives the woman an
essential sense of security during the very intimate and momentous experience
of childbirth. My main goal is to provide support that enhances family bonding.
The father or partner, may be better able to provide continuous support but
has little actual experience in dealing with the forces of labor. Even fathers
who have had intensive preparation are often surprised at the amount of work
involved (more than enough for two people). Even more important, many
fathers experience the birth as an emotional journey of their own and find it
hard to be objective in such a situation. Some fathers or partners are
concerned they may be sidelined or replaced by the doula during labor. Although individual situations vary, and one should question a prospective doula about her philosophy, generally the answer to this question is no - she will not replace him. Studies have shown that fathers usually participate more actively during labor in the presence of a doula than without one. A responsible doula supports and encourages the father and enhances his support style rather than replaces him.
What's the different between a Doula & a Midwife?
A midwife's priority is the physical health of the mother and baby, while a Doula's priority is the emotional health of the mother, her partner, and their baby. Doulas are not meant to replace professional medical care. They are solely there for the laboring woman and her partner. They are the one continuous voice through out your entire labor.
Why use a Doula?
In order to have a positive birth experience, most women need continuous labor support. Although OB nurses are experienced in dealing with a laboring woman's emotional and physical needs, they can seldom guarantee the support they provide will last throughout the labor - especially in hospital settings where shift changes, coffee breaks, heavy paperwork and busy nights regularly occur. Some nurses handle up to six laboring couples at a time. Midwives may be able to offer more labor support, but they too have clinical duties to which they must attend.
Knowing there is another woman on which to rely emotionally, one who stays by their side throughout the labor and birth process and postpartum, is of great comfort.
Over the last decade, maternity care providers have come to recognize Doulas as an important part of a successful birthing team citing the improved physical outcomes and emotional well-being of mothers and infants that come with Doula care. Statistics support this assessment.
Since 1980, research has been done to determine the benefits of Doula assisted births. These studies showed that there were significant decreases in birth interventions including:
50 % decrease in cesarean births
60 % decrease in epidurals
40 % decrease in the use of pitocin
30% decrease in the use of narcotics
30% decrease in the use of forceps
Overall, a 25% decrease in the length of labor
*You can learn more in the book “Mothering the Mother, How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth” by Marshall H. Klaus, John H. Kennell, Phyllis H. Klaus
Some other reasons...
Mother’s satisfaction with her partner at six weeks postpartum goes from 49% to 85% with a birth Doula
The percentage of mothers who say their relationship with their partner was better right after birth goes up from 30% to 71% with the addition of a Doula
Shorter hospital stays and fewer admissions to special care nurseries due to less medical intervention during birth
Infant/mother togetherness increased (infants spend less time in the hospital nursery)
Increased success of breastfeeding through the first year of life
Increased father involvement with care of the baby in the first three months of life
Greater incident of secure attachment with both parents due to a satisfying birth experience, assistance with breastfeeding and demonstration of attached parenting techniques