A doula is a professional trained in childbirth, who provides emotional, physical and informational support to women who are expecting, in labor or have recently given birth. The doula's role is to help women have a safe, memorable and empowering birthing experience.
Women have complex needs during childbirth and the weeks that follow. In addition to medical care and the love and companionship provided by their partners, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. They need individualized care based on their circumstances and preferences.
Doulas are educated and experienced in childbirth and the postpartum period. I am prepared to provide physical (non-medical), emotional and informational support to women and their partners during labor and birth, as well as to families in the weeks following childbirth. I offer a loving touch, positioning and comfort measures that make childbearing women and families feel nurtured and cared for.
Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth
- tends to result 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 cesareans
- reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals
Research shows 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
Most doula and client relationships begin a few months before the baby is due. During this time, they establish a relationship that gives the mother complete freedom to ask questions, express fears and concerns, and take an active role in creating a birth plan. Most doulas make themselves available to the mother by phone and/or email to answer questions or explain any developments that may arise in pregnancy. Doulas do not provide any type of medical care. However, they are knowledgeable in the medical aspect of labor and delivery so they can help their clients get a better understanding of procedures and complications that may arise in late pregnancy or during delivery.
During delivery, doulas are in constant, close proximity to the mother at all times. They can provide comfort with pain relief techniques, such as breathing, relaxation, massage and laboring positions. Doulas also encourage participation from the partner and offer reassurance. A doula acts as an advocate for the mother, encouraging her in her desires for her birth. The goal of a doula is to help the mother have a positive and safe birth experience, whether the mother wants an un-medicated birth or is having a planned cesarean birth.
After the birth, many labor doulas will spend a short time helping mothers begin the breastfeeding process and encouraging bonding between the new baby and family members.
The presence of a doula can be beneficial no matter what type of birth you are planning. Many women do report needing fewer interventions when they have a doula, but the role of the doula is to help you have a safe and pleasant birth, not to choose your type of birth. For women who know they want a medicated birth, the doula still provides emotional support, informational support and comfort measures to help the women through labor and the administration of medications. Doulas can work alongside medication by helping mom deal with possible side effects and filling in the gap that medication may not cover; rarely does medication take all discomfort away.
For a mother who faces a cesarean, a doula can be helpful by providing constant support and encouragement. Often a cesarean is an unexpected situation and moms are left feeling unprepared, disappointed and lonely. A doula can be with the mother at all times throughout a cesarean, explaining what is going on throughout the procedure while the partner is able to attend to the baby and accompany the newborn to the nursery if problems arise. Having a doula with you during your c-section can help take some of the stress and worry off of dad who is torn between making sure you are ok and that your new baby is ok. This way dad can be confident that mom is being taken care of so he can tend to the baby or go with the baby to the nursery if needed.
Often times while your nurse may be awsome, she is limited by the hospitals policy. Depending on the hospital, she may be responsible for upwards of 12-15 laboring women at a time. Your nurse may only see you for 10 mins out of the hour. Your doula is there for YOU and doesn't follow hospital policy restrictions/limitations and doesn't have any other clients to care for. You are number one!
A lot of OB's do not come to see you in labor until you are close to pushing. If you go to the hospital during the day you may only see your doctor once until you are ready to deliver. Or you may see one doctor and end up with a different doctor when you deliver if you do not labor in their 9am-5pm schedule. This also applies to inductions and scheduled c-sections. It is usually the norm for you to labor and for the nurses to page the doctors for a "heads up" when you reach 6cm. When you are fully dialated they then page the doctor again for delivery. Obviously these pratices vary, depending on the particular hospitals rules and how far away the doctor is, but it is a general rule.
Midwives, while depending on the type of pratice she runs, can either be just like that of an OB or totally different. If you are having a hombirth your midwife is more likely to be with you much longer than if you are birthing in an hospital.
10 Reasons To Hire A Doula
1. She will give you 100% attention in labor.
2. She knows dozens of labor positions.
3. She is a great assistant to the father.
4. She will come to your birth - night or day.
5. She works on weekends & holidays.
6. She can make birth less scarry.
7. She brings a sense of peace and calmness.
8. She is professionally trained.
9. She will help you with breastfeeding.
10. She will help you trust yourself in pregnancy, birth and as a new mother.
What to bring to the hospital is different for each woman. Here is a list of suggestions of what to bring. You can always add or remove items that work for you. Some women find it helpful to pack two bags. One labor bag and one for after baby arrives.
In your labor bag:
- Insurance cards and/or registration papers
- Your birth plan
- Camera and/or video camera
- Extra batteries
- Phone charger
- Cash/change for the vending machines
- Book, magazine, cards, hobby - if you are induced or go to the hospital in early labor you may want to bring something to keep you occupied, dad too!, while your body is transitioning into active labor
- Birth ball and cover
- Focal point
- Lollipops or hard candys - for a dry mouth
- Hot water bottle or a rice sock - rice socks are cheap and easy to make on your own
- Lotion, powder, aromatherapy oils - for massage
- Tennis balls - for counter pressure and back massage
- Any music you may want to listen to
- A small cooler with drinks and snacks
- Swimsuit or an extra bra & underwear if you plan to wear them in a tub or shower, don't forget dad too, if he will be joining you
- Extra socks and underwear - socks incase your water breaks and you get your feet wet, or after your water breaks you may leak down your legs.. same for underwear, some women like to wear underwear, some don't. Some hospitals provide the mesh ones with a pad if your water breaks too, check with your specific hospital.
- Hair ties
- Toothpaste, toothbrush - labor can make some women nauseous
- Honey - some hospitals do not let women eat while they are in labor, you can mix honey with some warm water to keep up your energy