What is a Doula?
“Doula” is a Greek word meaning woman servant. The term birth doula is now use to describe a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support before, during, and the weeks following birth.
A birth doula helps a woman and her partner prepare for their birth as a life experience that will impact the rest of their lives. A doula understands and respects childbirth as well as the unique emotional needs of a laboring woman. A doula helps the birthing family develop their birth preferences by offering informational support.
During labor and childbirth, a birth doula “mothers the mother” by offering emotional and physical support unique to each laboring woman. A doula does not provide any clinical or medical care. Instead, she provides continuous emotional, physical, and informational support throughout the entire labor and delivery. A doula also helps to facilitate strong communication between the birthing person and medical professionals.
Partners meet a laboring woman’s need for love, affection, and companionship and medical professionals meet her need for professional clinical and medical care. A doula meets a laboring woman’s need for constant reassurance, respect, comfort, and encouragement. This continuous support nurtures the woman and her partner’s memory of the birth experience.
Why hire a doula?
There are many benefits to having a doula attend your birth. Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth:
- tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
- increases positive feelings about the childbirth experience
- reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
- reduces requests for pain medication and/or epidurals
Research also shows parents who receive doula support:
- 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