Named after the Greek word for “women's servant,” a doula is a birthing professional who specializes in supporting new mothers before, during, and after the birth of their children. Women have been helping one another during the birthing process for millennia; today's doulas may employ modern practices and means of support, but the tradition they follow is ancient and wise.
What is a Doula?
A doula supports new mothers in a variety of ways. Most doulas specialize in one area of support – either antepartum (before birth), labor, or postpartum (after birth) care. In each of these situations, the doula's aim is to calm and comfort the mother, nurturing her and providing her with the tools to cope with new situations. Before labor, this may involve phone conversations, and emotional support, while a doula supporting a mom during the birth process may massage her to relax tight muscles, or coach her through difficult contractions.
How Will a Doula Help Me?
Studies have shown that the presence of a doula during labor reduces rates of caesarian section by 50%, the length of the labor itself by 25%, and the request for an epidural by 60%. These statistics alone show that a doula can significantly improve a woman's experience during childbirth! In addition, doulas can reduce postpartum stress by helping with household chores or preparing meals for the family, and will watch the baby for short periods of time so that mom can shower or sleep.
Is a Doula Different Than a Midwife?
A doula is not a medical professional; unlike a midwife, doulas are not certified or trained to supervise home births, and will not be covered by maternity insurance plans. While a midwife is trained to tend to the physical needs of a mother and her child during pregnancy and birth, a doula often focuses more on the emotional and mental well-being of the mother. Doulas encourage and support both parents emotionally during the birthing process; a midwife will usually be preoccupied with the health of the child, and may not be able to offer the same kind of reassurance.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Doula
The most important aspect of your relationship with your doula is comfort. Make sure you enjoy her company! Experience is also a factor – how many times has your doula supported new moms in the past? What techniques does she utilize? What do her past clients have to say? Paying for your doula will be a personal out-of-pocket expense, so make sure you'll be working with someone you have complete confidence in! You should also think about what you'll need help with the most, and choose a doula who can meet those needs.
Doulas can support women during both home and hospital births in a variety of different ways. Statistically, a doula can make childbirth a much easier process! If you feel that a doula might be a valuable addition to your childbirth team, don't hesitate to look into this possibility.
Article on Doulas
A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical and informational support to a woman during the birth of her child. A doula is advocate for the birthing mother to help her achieve the birthing experience that she desires. The doulas role is help women have a safe, memorable and empowering birthing experience.
Although this article is speaking to about the labor doula; there are also antepartum and postpartum Doulas which offer additional supportive roles before or after the birthing experience.
How does a doula help?
Although a doula does not provide any type of medical care; they are trained professionals that provide physical, emotional and mental support increasing the probability of a positive birthing experience. Additionally, doulas are educated about the medical aspects of labor and birth so they can help you develop a better understanding of the birthing process, possible complications, and any procedures necessary to facilitate the birth.
A doula is normally present throughout the labor and birthing process providing you with comfort through your labor pains by using relief techniques, such as breathing, relaxing, massage and laboring positions. A doula works with your partner and serves as an additional support accompanied by professional care. The goal of a doula is to help your have a positive and safe birth experience no matter what the circumstances.
How does a doula help me reduce my prenatal care expenses?
A doula does not reduce your expenses, but that provide you with a better birthing experience. The good news is that women who are being trained or becoming a doula have to provided doula services from an intern perspective. In most cases, these doula services are provided for free. It is quite possible that you can locate one of these in-training Doulas by contacting a local birth center, Doulas of North America, or CAPPA.