What is a doula?
There are a number of advantages to having a doula with you prenatally and throughout the experience of your baby’s birth. Read on to learn more about what a doula is and what research has found about benefits to Mom & birth…
doula – n. a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth.
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 the mother before, during and just after birth. 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 mother will remember all her life;
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor;
- Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth;
- Stays with the woman throughout the labor;
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions;
- Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers;
- Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman’s memory of the birth experience; and
- Allows the woman’s partner to participate at his/her comfort level.”
Benefits to Mom & Her Birth
There have been a number of different clinical studies pertaining to birth, and they have found that a doula’s presence
- generally results in shorter labors with fewer complications;
- reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience;
- reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction; and
- reduces the requests for pain medication and epidurals, as well as the incidence of cesareans.
When a doula is present during and after childbirth, women report greater satisfaction with their birth experience, make more positive assessments of their babies, have fewer cesareans and requests for medical intervention, and less postpartum depression.
Source: DONA International – Birth Doula FAQ
Benefits to Baby
Studies have shown that babies born with doulas present tend to have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions to special care nurseries, breastfeed more easily and have more affectionate mothers in the postpartum period.
This is a great 7-minute documentary about the benefits of a doula!