What are the advantages of having a birth doula?
Many evidence-based studies have been conducted on the benefits of having a doula. These studies have found that doula support is associated with shorter labors, less use of epidurals and other pain medications, lower episiotomy rates, and reduction in the C-section rates. Research has also shown better clinical outcomes for both the mother and the baby (including fewer admissions to neonatal special care units, better breastfeeding rates, and better family bonding). A doula also provides care for the mother’s partner and other family members, assists busy hospital staff, saves money, and greatly increases a mother’s overall satisfaction with her birthing experience.
- 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin
- 28% decrease in the risk of C-section
- 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
- 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
- 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
- 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience
Gruber, K. J., Cupito, S. H., & Dobson, C. F. (2013). Impact of doulas on healthy birth outcomes. The Journal of perinatal education, 22(1), 49–58. doi:10.1891/1058-1243.22.1.49
Gilliland, A. L. (2010a). “ A grounded theory study of effective labor support by birth doulas. In Human Development and Family Studies, Vol. Doctorate University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, pp. 452.
What is the role of a doula?
Your doula will help you:
- Learn as much as you can about what you want for your childbirth.
- Choose among different options and make a rough plan to implement your choices.
- Feel confident in your birth “plan”, based on your preferences and beliefs.
- Try out helpful positions and exercises to encourage optimal baby positioning.
- Know when you are in labor.
Your doula will also:
- Be there for you once you are in active labor, even before you head to the birth center or call the midwife to your home.
- Support you throughout your labor, and assist with breathing and position changes.
- Provide emotional support and help you feel safe and heard.
- Look after your partner, offering encouragement and practical help.
- Be your advocate, encourage you to make informed decisions, and support YOUR choices.
- Watch over you after birth, assisting you with initial bonding and breastfeeding.
Is a doula the same thing as a midwife?
Absolutely not! A midwife is a medical expert, equipped and qualified to deliver babies, who will be focusing on monitoring and maintaining the heath and safety of mother and baby. Midwives care about your comfort and feelings too, but they have a medical job to do. A doula, on the other hand, is free to focus exclusively on supporting you and your partner, unencumbered by monitoring and charting and other critical medical matters. Your doula will typically be by your side in labor even before you see your midwife and will remain with you until after your midwife leaves.
Is a doula replacing my partner?
Of course not! Your partner is irreplaceable! A doula does not replace anyone, rather she enhances all the other roles on your birth team by her attentive and constant presence. Partners appreciate having a doula available to offer ideas and encouragement for labor support, allowing them to be more confident and connected with the birth experience.
Can a doula help me if I choose a medicated, hospital birth?
Completely! A doula is committed to YOU and YOUR choices! Whether you plan from the beginning to request pain medication and/or an epidural or your plan changes to include those tools once labor is underway, a doula’s goal is to advise, support and champion your decisions. The choice to use pain medication or not is up to you. It’s your birth! Choosing pain medicine and/or an epidural does not negate your continued need for comfort techniques, a calm and focused atmosphere, and labor positions which encourage your baby’s progression toward birth. Your doula will be with you, coaching and encouraging you no matter what route you choose in your birth.
Can a doula attend a c-section?
Yes! Whether your cesarian is planned or is the end result of twists and turns through the labor process, a mother having a C-section benefits from a doula’s support. She will help walk you through the early stages of labor, preparing for your c-section and recovery. Even in a surgical setting, a doula is there to explain what is happening and help guide you though the procedure. While the c-section is occurring, she will be waiting for you in the recovery room, and will be there during recovery to help with the first breastfeeding and bonding. Remember that the purpose of a doula is to support you as you birth your baby, no matter what route your baby takes to get there!
How can I ensure my doula will be available when I go into labor?
I limit the number of clients I take, but I also have a back-up doula fully informed and ready to step into my place in the event I am unavailable.
Why should I take childbirth education and other preparation if I hire a doula?
The more you know, the better equipped you will be to make informed and thoughtful decisions throughout your pregnancy, labor and birth. Prenatal visits with your doula are insufficient to learn what you would in an entire childbirth education class. Remember that your doula is there to support YOUR choices, not make them for you. She will offer ideas, information and explanation, foster discussion, and advocate for what you decide.
“If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.” (DIANA KORT)
What a doula does NOT do:
A doula does not give medical advice, but she will help you ask good questions and point you toward finding the answers. A doula does not perform medical procedures. A doula will not make decisions for you, but will help you know your options. A doula will not speak on your behalf, but will encourage you to confidently communicate your concerns and preferences to your birth team.
Do you have any other questions?
I would love to get to know you and learn about your birth goals and preferences. We can set up a free consultation face-to-face or via phone!