What is a doula?
The word "doula" comes from ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves". Over time it has come to refer to a woman who has been specially trained to provide continuous support, physically, emotionally and informationally, to a pregnant mother throughout her pregnancy, labor and the immediate postpartum period. You can think of a doula as a trained pregnancy and labor coach. They can provide support to the mother as well as supporting her partner. Doulas are loaded with resources and have information ready to help you understand all your choices in birth and caring for your new baby. Doulas can also help facilitate communication between families and care providers, helping families to discover questions they may want to ask about the birth process.
Doulas strive to help families have a safe and positive birth experience regardless of whether they have a natural birth, a cesarian birth or anything in between. Doulas also work to support mothers after the birth as they begin breastfeeding and help families as they begin to bond with their new little person.
Why would I want one?
There are many reasons why you might want to add a doula to your birth team. One of the biggest values of having a doula is the consistent presence and support they provide you throughout your pregnancy, labor and early postpartum phases. Aside from the physical (non-medical), emotional and informational support a doula provides there are actually many studies that have been done on the value of having a doula. Here are just a few findings from those studies;
Births that are supported by a doula...
- tend to have shorter labors with fewer complications
- report parents having more positive feelings about the birth experience
- require reduced need for induction, forceps, vacuum extraction and cesarian birth
- have reduced request from mothers for pain medication
- leave parents feeling more cared for and supported
- show easier adjustment into early parenthood
- result in greater success with breastfeeding
- give parents greater self confidence
- have reported lower rates of postpartum depression
There are many articles you can read on the value of hiring a doula. Here are a couple for you to take a look at if you're interested in reading more.