Tag Archives: doulas

What Is A Doula?

If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.

If you are new to the arena of childbirth you may have heard a funny little world being thrown around here and there… doula. What is a doula? I get asked this question on a regular basis. It is new and strange word to many, but it comes from ancient Greek and means “woman who serves”. In today’s culture a doula is a trained professional who provides continuous informational, emotional and physical support to a mother before and during childbirth and/or provides practical and informational support in the postpartum period.

What Is Special About a Doula?

Unlike any other childbirth professional, a doula is solely there to support the mother. Doctors, nurses and medical staff are there to assist in the delivery of a healthy baby and may not always be able to solely support the mother in the ways she needs.

Doulas are also one of the only childbirth professionals who will provide continuous support to the mother throughout labor and birth. Nurses and doctors have other patients and responsibilities and are usually unable to stay with a single family throughout all of a labor and delivery; a doula provides continual support from the start of active labor through delivery.

You have a relationship with your doula. In many cases you will not know exactly what doctor or midwife will be on call when you deliver and you will not know what nurse or nurses you will be assigned. This means that most moms have little to no relationship with the people supporting them during this important time which may be disconcerting to some new parents. However, because most parents hire a doula towards the middle of their pregnancy there is a lot of time to establish a relationship and get to know each other.

 

Why Should I Consider Hiring a Doula?

There are four primary reasons that expectant parents should consider hiring a doula.

  1. Information: When you hire a doula you have an experience and trained professional available to answer any question you may have whenever you have them. This is reassuring and can help moms feel more prepared and confident about the journey ahead of them. Doulas are also a great way to get connected to resources in your area because they can refer you to services, groups, and doctors that may be of interest to you.
  2. Support of Partners: Doulas are often primarily there for the mother during the pregnancy and delivery process but moms are not the only ones who benefit. Doulas can be a huge support to the mother’s partner and family as well. For many partners childbirth is a new and scary territory that they have little to no experience with. Yet, without continual labor support moms often end up relying on their partners for support. This can be incredibly stressful and sometimes traumatic for partners, so having a trusted professional in the room allows many people to feel more at ease and better enjoy the birth of their new family member.
  3. Physical Support: Numerous studies have shown that the presence of a doula at a birth tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications, reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction cesareans, and reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals. This is especially appealing to women interested in having a birth experience with minimal interventions. (1)
  4. Emotional Support: Studies have also shown that parents who receive support can Feel more secure and cared for, Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics, Have greater success with breastfeeding, Have greater self-confidence, Have less postpartum depression, Have lower incidence of abuse (1)

 

How do I Find a Doula?

There are a couple of great resources to help you find the doula that is going to be the best fit for you. First you can check out websites for doula certifying agencies like DONA International and look at their directories for certified doulas in your area. You can also connect with local resources such as La Leche League, your childbirth educator, or even your care provider. Many groups like this have lists of doulas that they would be happy to share with you. Finally, connect with other moms! There is no greater vote of confidence than one from a mom who has been through the process. Ask around and see who other local moms recommend.