What Is a Doula?
Doula (doola) comes from the Greek word meaning “woman who serves”. Labor support is incredibly comforting, encouraging & empowering all at the same time. Because labor is emotionally & physically demanding, it’s super valuable to have one person whose sole job is to attend to you and your partner’s needs. Doulas are individuals who are hired by families looking to have additional support during their pregnancy and birth. Doulas are there to support the mama in labor emotionally, physically, and with information. We are not there to act as your doctor or midwife as we do not make any medical decisions or do any medical procedures. Nor do we "replace" the very important role that the dads/ partners play in your labor support. Doulas give prenatal support and continuous labor support. Having the sort of support that doulas are able to give has been shown to reduce the rates of interventions (including cesareans) and improve satisfaction rates.
"Often people feel like the role a doula plays can or should be done by other healthcare workers. While this would be nice, in reality it is very difficult for healthcare workers to provide good medical care and good labor support. In particular there are a few things that set a doula apart from other healthcare workers.
A doula will stay with the laboring family from the beginning of labor until the end. Sometimes that beginning is also unpredictable, but the doula will be there from the very first contraction. This is something that is just not workable with our current medical system. Many healthcare providers also see their role as more medical and don’t help much with the emotional aspects of beginning labor or afterward." - www.trainingdoulas.com
Benefits of having a Doula:
• Shorter labor.
• Fewer complications/interventions:
- Cesarean rates reduced 50%.
- Less use of episiotomies.
- Less need for medications to speed labor by 40%.
- Less need for forceps/vacuum extractor by 40%.
- Fewer requests for pain medications and epidurals by 60%.
• Increased confidence in self and in partner/ coach.
• Higher success rate in breastfeeding.
• Increased satisfaction with birth experience.
• Mother views baby more positively.
• Continuity in care: prenatal, labor, birth and immediate postpartum.
• Lowers anxiety /stress levels.
• Less likely to have postpartum depression.
• Babies have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions to special care nurseries.
Benefits to Coach/ Partner:
• Allows partner to be involved to their own comfort level.
• Support and help for the partner.
• Partner can take breaks.
• Increased confidence in self and laboring mother.
• Partner views birth experience and baby more positively.
How is a doula different from a midwife, doctor, nurse or partner?
The most important thing a woman needs during labor is continuous support. This means that you have someone by your side continuously from start to finish. A doula never leaves your side. Nurses and midwives have many other responsibilities other than you. Aside from helping care for you, the nurse/ midwife is communicating with your care provider, taking care of other patients, documenting care, taking breaks, and taking care of other responsibilities. A midwife’s support ends when her shift does. The doula only has one obligation the whole time she is with you—and that is YOU!
Sometimes people think that they don’t need a doula because their partner will be with them continuously throughout labor. Your partner is an essential support person for you to have by your side. However, your partner will need to eat and use the bathroom at times. Also, most partners have limited knowledge about birth, medical procedures, or what goes on in a hospital. Doulas and partners can work together to make up a labor support team. If you have continuous labor support (that is, someone who never leaves your side), you are statistically more likely to have better outcomes and your baby is more likely to have better outcomes!