A Doo-What? Why Choose a Doula?
Doula (doo-la) is a Greek term for ' woman servant' / 'caregiver' or sometimes 'mothering the mother.' The term now refers to a trained professional who provides non-medical, continuous physical, emotional and informational labor support.
As a professional Birth Doula, I accompany women and their partners in labor to help ensure a safe and satisfying birth experience. I draw on my professional training, knowledge, and experience to provide non-judgmental emotional support, physical comfort and, as needed, facilitate communication with the staff to make sure that you have the information you need to make informed decisions. I can provide reassurance and perspective, make suggestions for labor progress, and help with relaxation, massage, positioning, and other techniques for comfort. I am independent and self-employed.
Doulas, work for you, not your caregiver or hospital. Next to your partner, a doula may be the only person at the labor who is there solely for the emotional well-being of the mom. The doula has no other priorities (no shift changes, clinical responsibilities, office hours and hospital policies)—she stays with you until after the baby is born.
As a professional Postpartum Doula, I support parents through the newborn stage by helping them gain confidence in their own skills and by caring for them, so that they are best able to care for their baby(ies). I meet parents where they are at, knowing that each person will have unique needs and experiences.
Working with Partners
Doulas can be a partner's best friend! The presence of a doula lifts the sole responsibility of labor support off the shoulders of your partner, allowing him/her to enjoy the whole birth process. I can help your partner to feel calm and informed, giving him/her ideas to continue support from beginning to end. At no time will I "take over" or deliberately exclude your partner, as I believe the partner is wonderfully suited to provide support with their unique knowledge of the laboring woman. I am there in addition to, not instead of, the partner ; to provide support to both of you at all times. Some partners like to stay by the mother’s side during the whole of labor, while others prefer to take a break.
After baby is born, I can help partners be confident in supporting the mother and the baby or take over when needed, so they can rest or go to work knowing everyone at home is being supported.
The Evidence for Doula Support
Studies show that having a doula present reduces the rates of induction, augmentation, caesarean birth, instrumental deliveries, epidurals, narcotic pain relief and maternal emotional distress.
A recent meta-analysis published in The Cochrane Library (February 2011) looked at 21 randomized controlled studies involving more than 15,000 women. The study found that, compared with women who had no continuous support, women who had a doula were:
• 28% less likely to have a cesarean section
• 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin (i.e. Pitocin) to speed labor
• 9% less likely to use any pain medication
• 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively.
Another study: Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth by Kennell, Klaus, and Kennell (1993) found these results from having a doula present:
"Only with trust, faith, and support can the woman allow the birth experience to enlighten and empower her." Claudia Lowe