What is a doula?
A doula is a non-medical assistant, trained and experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother and her partner before, during and just after childbirth.
The word doula actually comes from ancient Greek and means “Woman’s Servant”. Throughout history, women all over the world have been supported during childbirth by other women. A woman going through labor and birth could depend on these other wise women for encouragement, back rubs, advice, and emotional support. The role of doulas now is based on this ancient tradition of support and care.
What do doulas do?
Doulas are experienced in providing tried and true comfort measures specific to labor. These can include suggestions for changing positions, vocalization, rhythmic movement, guided relaxation with breathing and/or visualization, and specialized massage for labor. A doula also helps families gather important information before and during labor so they are completely informed about all their options and can feel confident about their decisions.
The most valuable thing a doula offers is continuous emotional support. This comes in the form of verbal encouragement and reassurance, a constant physical presence, and full trust in your power and ability to birth.
I will hold a space for you that is full of trust, peace, and reassurance to help ensure a positive and empowering birth. A laboring woman can be very vulnerable. You may be in an unfamiliar environment where your natural, instinctive urges for labor, such as moaning and movement, are inhibited and you do not feel in control. Doulas nurture birthing women by treating them with kindness, respect, and dignity, creating a lasting positive impact on the mother, her partner, and the baby.
"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it use one.” - John H. Kennell, MD
Working With Partners
The mother’s partner always plays the most important role in loving and caring for the laboring woman. As a doula, I will be there to help the partner support the mother as needed and desired. Birth is a very intimate event and I know when to step back and give a laboring couple privacy. I will guide the partner in supporting their loved one by modeling specific support measures that work best for a laboring woman.
Some partners may feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable with such a central role, and that is okay as well. Doulas are there to support the partner as well as the mother, so both have a positive and rewarding birth experience.
Many women have a whole birthing team, including friends, mother, sister, grandmother, father, etc. Whoever you want as part of your birth team will be honored and welcomed. We will all work together to ensure that you feel comfortable and well supported through your labor and delivery.
“I knew she was there and she just melted into the action, whispering in my ear, reminding me at every turn how strong I was and simply that I could do it.” - A new mother, speaking of her doula
What the Research Says
Women supported by doulas tend to have less interventions and shorter labors including:
- 28% reduction in Cesarean rate
- 40% decrease in Pitocin use (labor induction)
- 28% less likely to use epidural or narcotic medication
- 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal delivery
- 41% less likely to have vacuum or forceps delivery
Six weeks after birth, mothers who had doulas were:
- 33% less likely to be dissatisfied with their births
- Consistently more satisfied with their birth experiences
- More confident with their babies
- More satisfied with their partners
Long-term physiological benefits for mom and baby:
- Improved breastfeeding
- Stronger maternal-infant interaction and bonding
- Increased time spent with baby
- More positive maternal assessments of baby's personality and health, and maternal competence
- Decrease in postpartum depression and anxiety